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Coventry chairman, Bryan Richardson
"I'm hugely disappointed that Robbie has gone."
 real 28k

Sunday, 30 July, 2000, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Keane in 13m Inter switch
Robbie Keane
Keane celebrates one of last season's 12 league goals
Robbie Keane has joined Inter Milan in a 13m transfer from Coventry City.

Keane, 20, signed a five-year contract worth around 1m a season for the Dublin-born striker after swift negotiations with the Italian giants.

He became English football's most expensive teenager when he joined the Sky Blues from Wolves for 6m last August.

He had been on top of Inter's wish list since bids to sign Lazio's Marcelo Salas and Bordeaux's Sylvain Wiltord fell through.

Coventry manager Gordon Strachan initially had pledged to do whatever it took to keep Keane, who scored 12 goals last season despite missing much of it with a knee injury.

But he was always fighting a losing battle.

Coventry chairman Brian Richardson revelaed on Sunday that a Premiership club staged an audacious 11th-hour bid to snatch Keane from under the noses of Inter.

Richardson said: "Arsenal weren't but there were two other Premier League clubs - and one came in on Saturday night in case something didn't materialise with Inter.

"But those are for private matters, obviously."

Only a year ago, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said he would not pay more than 500,000 for Keane.

The Italians spent most of last week locked in trans-Atlantic talks with Coventry chairman Bryan Richardson, who was in America on a golfing holiday.

Sky Blues boss Gordon Strachan earlier said: "Obviously we are doing all we can to keep hold of him. Robbie is very special to us."

He joked: "I'm just hoping Robbie doesn't like the San Siro, doesn't like the wages and wants to come back here."

Rapid rise

Keane's rapid rise to prominence began when he chose to join Wolves in the mid-90's despite interest from a clutch of top-flight teams.

The teenage Keane worked his way through the youth ranks at the First Division club before scoring a brace on his debut at Norwich on the first day of the 1997/98 season.

At the start of the 1999/00 season Coventry, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa were bidding to sign the Dubliner with Villa offering 5.5m.

Gordon Strachan
Strachan was surprised his club were willing to spend 6m
Villa boss John Gregory would go no higher with his bid however, and Strachan admitted he was surprised when his chairman told him the Sky Blues were ready to pay 6m for Keane last August.

Debut

Two goals arrived on the Irishman's debut against Derby and he scored 12 in all despite injury marring his first season in the top flight.

Coventry defender Colin Hendry believed that the move to Milan will only benefit Keane's all round game.

He said: "We all wish Robbie the best of luck because it is a great opportunity for him.

"No-one at Coventry bears him any grudges and we will all be rooting for him to show what he can do out there.

Those opportunities don't come along very often in a career."

There will be red faces at Molineux as the First Division outfit neglected to include a sell-on fee when negotiating Keane's move to Coventry.

He scored the only goal - after a typical twisting, jinking run - on his return to the Black Country club in a pre-season friendly last weekend.

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14 Jul 00 |  Europe
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