Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov only spent a couple of seasons playing together for Tottenham Hotspurs, but the pair worked some real magic at White Hart Lane and beyond from 2006-2008.
Playing alongside the stoic Bulgarian striker, Keane displayed the best form of his career. The Irishman scored 22 times in all competitions during the 2006-2007 season, despite missing a number of games through injury, and went one better than that the following season, netting 23 times. Berbatov bagged quite a few goals in the same time period, scoring 46 times in 102 appearances across all competitions.
With statistics like those, it came as no surprise that when Berbatov was asked to talk about the partnership with Keane on this morning’s episode of Goals on Sunday, he was effusive in his praise of the Dubliner.
“We had a great relationship with him,” said ‘Berba’. “He knew me. He knew how I was. I don’t speak a lot, just keeping to myself. But when I go to the pitch, it’s all about the team. No selfishness, play with the teammates. Even if I don’t like someone, I’m going to pass him the ball if he’s in a better position to score.”
“With Keano, I like him a lot because he was – on the pitch, off the pitch, everywhere – he was there for the team, for teammates, joking around. When he needed to be serious, he was.
“I cannot say we were speaking constantly but sometimes good players do not need to speak – you just click. I knew where he was, he knew where I was. We were just working great.
“I watched Andy Cole the other day on a programme and they were asking him about Dwight Yorke and their relationship. He said, ‘Good players, we didn’t work, we just clicked.’ It was the same with me and Robbie, we just clicked straight away.
“We just knew how to play with each other.”
You can watch the clip from the show below…
This isn’t the first time, of course, that Berbatov has paid tribute to his former teammate. Last year, when he was asked to put together an all-time XI of players he has lined out with, Berbatov selected Keane alongside Wayne Rooney up front.
And last month, when Keane was inducted into the FAI Hall of Fame, Berbatov sent a video message that was played at the induction ceremony.
“So Robbie Keane and Hall of Fame. The best possible partnership,” began Berbatov.
“But is there any other partnership that can be compared to this one? What do you think, Keano? Are you thinking what I’m thinking? I know you do mate, I know you do.
“Remember, you and me on the pitch. Making fun of the defenders, scoring for fun. You, running for both of us, talking for both of us. I remember
“Me playing with you actually made me a better player. You’re always there for the team, always helping the players — on the pitch, outside the pitch. In training, you are the full professional. In the games, you’re always fighting until the last minute, always trying to score.
“You became the leading goalscorer of your country, what an achievement that is. So you fully deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to you, I wish you all the luck in the world in everything you do in life. It was an honour playing with you, man(Transcription via the42).”
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) March 19, 2017
Hey Robbie, I think he likes you.