The Keanes’ bantz made a mockery of the pressures placed on football dads

Laura Jones talks babies, sleep deprivation and the Keane boys making a tit of themselves.

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Roy Keane was his usual self last week when he chided journalists for asking whether new dad Robbie Keane would be included in the Republic of Ireland team for the game against Germany.

The Ireland assistant coach answered, “Yes, why wouldn’t he be? He didn’t have the baby. Unless he’s breastfeeding he should be all right.”

Striker Keane responded a day later saying something about Roy having bigger tits than him. Good bit of bantery bantz there boys. I’d love to see you both experience breastfeeding. It’s like having electrodes clamped to your nipples.

But was Roy Keane right to be as flippant about Robbie Keane’s ability to perform after welcoming a new baby into his home?

Robbie played for Seattle on the Sunday, was by his wife’s side throughout Monday, and then flew to Europe just two hours after his child was born; so the chances of this tiny human’s arrival having had an impact on his physical and mental performance are quite high and journalists were right to question whether he would be fit to play in such an important fixture.

I have a seven-week-old little boy who, on some occasions, screams so loudly it sounds like a racoon trapped in a kettle. Believe me after a night of intermittent racoon kettle screaming I’m not exactly at my peak the next day.

My daily task list has gone from reading through legislation and interpreting it for educational purposes to seeing whether I can manage to brush my teeth that day. If a footballer is at home with his newborn, the chances are his ability to function the day after will be diminished.

Sleep…you don’t miss it until it’s gone.

Alex Gross – Southampton’s Head of Sport Science – in an article for, reiterated that sleep has a major bearing on an athlete’s performance. “Short term sleep deprivation is known to negatively affect cognitive function, decision-making and neural function which are linked to injury risk and poor performance.”

With the risk of poor decision-making on the pitch and potential injuries, becoming a new parent really does need to be taken into consideration when selecting a player for a game.

Lack of sleep can however produce waves of adrenaline where you can do things you couldn’t contemplate pre-child. Sheffield Wednesday’s Daniel Pudil and Norwich City’s Russell Martin both played and scored for their respective teams after being awake all night while their partners were in labour.

The Norwich captain’s wife started in labour at 11pm the night before, had their baby at 10am the following day and Martin was on a plane to play against Liverpool by 3pm. By 5pm he’d earned his team a point at Anfield. A real captain’s performance. It will be interesting to see how, over the coming weeks, Russell Martin’s performances fare now he has his own raccoon/kettle noise maker.

Although footballers are legally entitled to two week’s paternity leave, you very rarely hear of them taking advantage of it. The Owls’ Lewis McGugan recently took his parental leave, but it led to rumours of unrest in the dressing room. The impact of having a baby shouldn’t be underestimated and taking time out should be respected not derided.

Robbie Keane didn’t play in the Republic of Ireland’s victory over Germany and only came on as a sub in the defeat to Poland. Maybe next time sitting on the bench will give him a chance for a power nap.
Read more from Laura Jones here

Follow Laura at @YICETOR

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