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Robbie Keane cartwheels into Irish folklore

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The 2002 World Cup had many iconic moments. One that is often overlooked is the entire world getting to witness the Robbie Keane celebration. 

I’d mastered it as a 12-year-old. The cartwheel into the forward roll before finishing with the gun fingers. It hadn’t reached the global stage prior to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. By the end of the competition, everyone knew all about it. 

To set the scene a little bit, this Republic of Ireland team were without Roy Keane following the Saipan incident. Mick McCarthy had a squad made up of experienced internationals in Steve Staunton, Jason McAteer, Niall Quinn and Gary Kelly who had all played in the 1994 World Cup. You then youngsters looking to make names for themselves. A 23-year-old Damien Duff had just finished his first season back in the Premier League, for example. Clinton Morrison was called up after his goalscoring exploits in the First Division for Crystal Palace but the pressure was firmly on Keane to deliver. 

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It is easy to forget this now looking back having seen the career he went on to have, but heading into the World Cup, Keane had scored just three goals for Leeds United after making his loan move from Inter a permanent one.  

He went on to be a goal machine for club and country but at that point, the 21-year-old must’ve been in the squad due to his potential and not his form. 

McCarthy’s men kicked off their campaign with what turned out to be an invaluable 1-1 draw with Cameroon. Matt Holland scored an important equaliser after the break and Keane almost won it when his right-footed effort from distance cannoned back off the post. 

The same thing happened in the following match. This time it was a late kick-off so it felt right. 

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Miroslav Klose had scored in the first half but Germany weren’t able to kick on as they had in their first match – an 8-0 win. 

“Cue bedlam in the stands, in Ireland and in my house, and cartwheels on the pitch. “

In the second minute of stoppage time against Germany, Steve Finnan’s long punt was flicked on by Niall Quinn. Keane latched onto it and though a challenge forced him to delay the shoot, he somehow wrapped his foot around the ball and fired goalwards. Oliver Khan got something on the ball, his head, but it wasn’t enough to divert it wide. Instead, it clipped the post on the way to hitting the back of the net. 

Cue bedlam in the stands, in Ireland and in my house, and cartwheels on the pitch. 

It was the only goal that Germany conceded all the way up until the final. And it was beautiful in its simplicity. 

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Keane then opened the scoring in the final group-stage match against Saudi Arabia. Gary Breen added a second before Damien Duff opened his World Cup account. His well-struck effort was palmed into his own goal by the goalkeeper. 

Their first victory of the competition ensured they claimed second spot, finishing one point ahead of Cameroon. Their reward was a round-of-16 clash against Spain. 

Robbie Keane of the Republic of Ireland scores a dramatic penalty kick

Robbie Keane scoring a penalty vs Spain / Ben Radford/GettyImages

Fernando Morientes headed past Shay Given after eight minutes but that seemed to just spur McCarthy and his players on. Just after the hour mark, Duff was brought down in the area and Ireland had the chance to equalise. Ian Harte, normally so reliable from the spot for Leeds, saw his effort saved by Iker Casillas and it appeared as though their World Cup adventure was over. 

That was until the great Fernando Hierro manhandled Quinn in the area and the referee had no choice other than to point to the spot. With Harte off the pitch, Keane was tasked with the responsibility of prolonging his nation’s World Cup.  

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Casillas didn’t even react as the Irish No10 rolled it into the same corner Harte had earlier aimed for. 

Again, cue the bedlam in the stands and cartwheels on the pitch and in my back garden. This time Peter Drury added something to the moment with his commentary: “Irish men just don’t go home early. If there’s a party, they want to be there.” 

Extra-time was played out and the game went to penalties. Keane, again, converted from the spot but the next three were missed. Finnan scored but Gaizka Mendieta was able to win the game for Spain. 

Only five players scored more goals than Keane at the 2002 World Cup. Ronaldo netted eight times, Rivaldo and Miroslav Klose both scored five while Jon-Dahl Tomasson and Christian Vieri scored four goals each. 

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Monterrey signs midfielder Jordi Cortizo from Puebla

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Rayados de Monterrey have signed midfielder Jordi Cortizo from Club Puebla, ahead of the 2023 Liga MX Clausura. 

He joins the Guadalajara team on a four-season contract, according to Diego Armando Medina of TUDN.

“I have been delighted since the opportunity to come here was given, I always knew that I had to make a leap to these big leagues with one of the biggest clubs in Mexico,” Cortizo said of his transfer. 

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Cortizo kicked off his professional career with Queretaro in 2017, recording four goals in 76 appearances over the course of three years before seeing stints with Tijuana and Puebla. He managed well in Liga MX, but it wasn’t until the 2022 Apertura that he became a standout. 

The offensive midfielder recorded five goals in 20 overall matches to inspire Puebla to eighth on the table and the Liguilla quarterfinals. 

Overall, Cortizo has 12 goals in 149 Liga MX appearances. 

“They are going to see a player who always tries, that will never fail, who will go for the ball, will try to play, propose offensive play, go forward and who will always give himself up for the club. It is my dream to be champion of the Liga MX, there is no better option today than to be sitting here and with this squad to achieve it,” he said.

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Cortizo stands as the first signing under new Monterrey president Jose Antonio Noriega, who replaced Duilio Davino  following the team’s elimination from the 2022 Apertura. Upon his arrival, Noriega insisted he needed to evaluate the team’s needs before making drastic changes. 

But the arrival of Jordi Cortizo will now set off the several moves already planned. 

The 2023 Liga MX Clausura kicks off on January 6.



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Club America sign defender Israel Reyes from Puebla

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Club America has finally signed defender Israel Reyes from Club Puebla.

He stands as the team’s first reinforcement ahead of the 2023 Liga MX Clausura, joining on a four-year contract.  The Mexico City team reportedly paid $4.5M for Reyes, after he established himself as one of the most promising defenders in the Mexican league.

Reyes kicked off his professional career with Atlas in 2019, before quickly securing a loan deal to Puebla. After 19 games with the Franja, the team exercised his purchase option to make Reyes a staple of the backline. 

But it wasn’t until the 2022 Apertura that he became a standout in the Mexican league. The 22-year-old managed three goals in 17 games of the 2022 Apertura, inspiring Puebla to eighth place in the regular season and the Liguilla quarterfinals. 

Overall, he recorded six goals in 76 appearances with Puebla before joining Club America.

Internationally, the player holds one cap with the Mexican national team. He made his debut on December 8, 2021, coming on as a substitute in the 68th minute of a friendly against Chile.

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England vs Senegal: Confirmed lineups

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England vs Senegal: Confirmed lineups

On Sunday, England and Senegal, their opponents in the last-16 of the World Cup, square off at Al Bayt Stadium in a battle for a spot in the quarterfinals.

The Three Lions take on the Lions of Teranga, who advanced to the knockout stages thanks to a crucial intervention from their captain, in a first-ever meeting after Gareth Southgate’s team defeated Wales to win Group B.

Line-up

England XI: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Henderson, Bellingham; Saka, Foden, Kane.  

Senegal XI: E. Mendy; Sabaly, Koulibaly, Diallo, Jakobs; Ciss, N. Mendy; Diatta, Ndiaye, Sarr; Dia. 

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