On the day that the Republic of Ireland face Germany in Euro 2016 qualification, it is only right to reminisce on that moment when 21-year-old Robbie Keane snatched a draw from Die Mannschaft at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan.
Ironically, the goal itself represents an enduring victory for the reviled ‘Route One’ brand of football but, when all is said and done, how the ball found its way into the net doesn’t really matter to Irish fans. Where you were and who you were with are more important considerations.
The day lives long in the memory and I can still recall the joy felt when Keane smashed the ball past Oliver Kahn deep into added time.
Due to the World Cup being hosted by Japan and Korea, games occurred during the morning and afternoon in Ireland, and I was in school, doing exams.
But the magnitude of the occasion was not lost within the hallowed walls of St Columb’s College as the main assembly hall was transformed into a theatre, with Ireland versus Germany beamed onto a screen.
The wooden floor rumbled beneath rhythmic stamping and chants reverberated through the hall. Students and teachers were united behind the Boys in Green, clapping and cheering the team on. Then it came. The entire hall gasped. Quinn to Keane…
Mick McCarthy’s gaping disbelief. The elation. We erupted in unison.
Looking back, it seems so surreal, but it happened: a whole school deep in the middle of exam season ground to a halt to witness one game of football. Magical.
Reflecting on the goal, Keane touched upon how it wasn’t just a special moment for him personally, but one that lifted an entire nation. “A goal in the last minute against Germany…I think it stands out for everybody,” Keane said in a recent FIFATV interview on ‘World Cup Moments’.
“It’s amazing what football can do for a country as small as ours; it brings everybody together and that was certainly one of those moments.”
Where were you in that moment?
Watch the goal below. Enjoy!