Robbie Keane has admitted he was already mentally preparing for a life in coaching when he turned 30.

The Republic of Ireland's all-time top scorer began coaching last year after a playing career which included spells at Wolves, Coventry, Leeds, Tottenham and Liverpool.

The 39-year-old, who now works as an assistant manager with the Republic and Championship side Middlesbrough, says he started to keep a keen eye on how he was coached as his career entered its latter stages.

"When I reached 30, (coaching) was certainly something that I would watch closely, in terms of managers and how they treated me, how they treated players, how they speak to people, how they speak to the media, how they put training sessions on, so I'd always look closely, without them really knowing that I'm watching. It was certainly something that I definitely had an eye on," he told

Keane, who recently spoke to student coaches at the UEFA Pro Licence student exchange course in Nyon, admits prior to that his focus had been solely on playing.

Keane attending the Ireland women's Euro 2021 qualifier against Ukraine in Tallaght on Tuesday

"When you're young, when you're 21 years of age, you don't think about coaching," he said.

"That's just normal because you're so young, you're focused on what you're doing, you're just starting your career."

As a coach he admits he does think deeply about what to put into each session.

"Anybody can put a training session on. We've all done training sessions; I've done training sessions for 20 years," he said.

"I've been in training sessions for 20 years, but with different managers with different variations and different styles of how they want to do things.

"But the key factor is the small detail. If one player can take one little thing away from the training session that will help him improve as a player, or give him the knowledge that we want him to take into a game on the Saturday, then we've already been successful." 

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