Robbie Keane to do better still

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The Independent Online

Coventry's teenage star Robbie Keane admitted his belief that manager Gordon Strachan could make him a better player prompted him to sign for the Sky Blues ahead of more glamorous clubs.

Coventry's teenage star Robbie Keane admitted his belief that manager Gordon Strachan could make him a better player prompted him to sign for the Sky Blues ahead of more glamorous clubs.

Keane was also wanted by Middlesbrough and Aston Villa and his decision to join the Highfield Road club two months ago in a £6million deal caused a few raised eyebrows.

But Strachan's view that the Republic of Ireland international could adapt quickly to the Premiership stage was a big influence on Keane.

And Keane, only three months past his 19th birthday, gave the latest demonstration of his skills in Sunday's televised demolition of Watford.

Although Graham Taylor's side, hit by injuries and suspensions, posed few problems, the vision and close control of Keane would have troubled the tightest of defences.

It prompted Strachan to admit that Keane would be "a star in any side in Europe."

Keane said: "It is flattering for the manager to say things like that and I do feel happy in the Premiership and things are going quite well at the moment.

"But I always believed in my own ability. I knew people were saying could I do the business at this level when I moved from Wolves.

"But before that happened I played nine times for the Republic against the likes of Argentina and I have produced at that level.

"I'm still only young and learning the game and I want to keep my feet on the ground. I always dreamed of what's happening now and I'm not going to throw things away.

"You've got to strive to become a better player and that's one of the main reasons why I came to Coventry because I believe Gordon Strachan can help me do that.

"He achieved everything in the game as a player and is a top coach and manager. I can only learn off him."

Coventry team-mate Stephen Froggatt, who was also in the same Wolves side as Keane, said: "When I saw him as a 16-year-old you could see he was going to be outstanding. He made his debut at Norwich and scored two wonder-goals and you were thinking oh my God, who is this lad?

"I've got nothing but praise for him. As long as he keeps his feet on the ground - and we will make sure he does - then he really can be something special.

"I think the question should be what hasn't he got? because his all-round game is excellent and I don't think money could buy him at the moment.

"He has taken to the Premiership like a duck to water. He has revelled playing in a higher league against top-quality opposition and it has made him an even better player."

Coventry's experienced defender David Burrows added: "I think you will probably have to go back to the George Best days to find somebody with comparable talent at the age of 19.

"I watched him at least 15 times when he played for Wolves and he has lived up to the expectations I had of him when I watched him in those days.

"While other people were stalling about signing him, we put £6million on the table and it's looking a snip. We could sell him tomorrow for £10million. Our chairman is not silly. It's a very wise investment for the club.

"I think what Sir Alex Ferguson said about him being only worth £500,000 was a little bit naughty. I suppose you can say things like that when you are champions of Europe but Robbie is proving people wrong."

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