Robbie Keane reveals Roberto Baggio inspired him to wear the number 10

Keane and Baggio almost played together at Inter Milan

Robbie Keane reveals Roberto Baggio inspired him to wear the number 10

Roberto Baggio © INPHO/Billy Stickland

Until he retired him international football last year, Robbie Keane was synonymous with the number 10 jersey for the Republic of Ireland.

The vast majority of Keane's caps came in the jersey, as generations of Irish fans became accustomed to seeing the Tallaght native wearing the number 10. Since his retirement, Robbie Brady has taken on the mantle.

As part of Three's #TheCallUp campaign, Keane has revealed his love of the number ten jersey didn't come from any of the Irish players to wear the jersey, but from Italian legend Roberto Baggio.

Speaking about growing up in Tallaght, Keane admitted his love of Baggio came from watching Italian football every Sunday afternoon, during the season.

"When I was a kid growing up Italian football was always on a Sunday at 2 o' clock and for some reason Roberto Baggio always stood out, he always played in the hole and always scored great goals".

"I was thinking 'What a player!' and I ended up getting a pair of his boots he wore and that he signed. That's certainly one of the first memories and that's the reason probably why I ended up with the number 10".

Keane added that he was regularly called 'Roberto' as a child, and he was even named 'Baggio' by former Ireland teammate Gary Kelly. That nickname has now been given to Keane's oldest son Robert.Despite the nickname, Keane admitted his son was still learning about the Italian striker.

"I try to explain to him that he was probably one of the greatest number 10’s of all time. Apart from when Paul McGrath had him in his pocket in 1994."

Baggio and Keane nearly played together at Inter Milan. The Dubliner joined the club in the summer of 2000, a few weeks after the Italian striker moved to Brescia.