World Cup 2002: Robbie Keane cartwheels in Irish folklore.

The 2002 World Cup had many iconic moments. One that is often overlooked is having the whole world witness the Ruby Kane ceremony.

I mastered it at the age of 12. Put the cartwheel into a forward roll before finishing with the toes of the gun. It did not reach the global stage before the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. By the end of the competition, everyone knew everything about him.

To set the scene a bit, this Republic of Ireland team was without Roy Keane after the Saipan incident. Mick McCarthy had a squad of experienced internationals in Steve Staunton, Jason McAteer, Niall Quinn and Gary Kelly who had all played at the 1994 World Cup. For example, a 23-year-old Damian Duff had just finished his first season in the Premier League. Clinton Morrison was called up for Crystal Palace after his goalscoring exploits in the First Division but the pressure was firmly on Kane to deliver.

Harry Simeo hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back at Korea/Japan ’02 as part of ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!

It’s easy to forget when looking back on his career now, but heading into the World Cup, Kane had scored just three goals for Leeds United after making his loan move from Inter permanent.

He became a goal machine for club and country but at this point, the 21-year-old should be in the squad for his ability and not his form.

McCarthy’s men opened their campaign with a priceless 1-1 draw with Cameroon. Matt Holland scored a crucial equalizer after the break and Kane almost won it when his right-footed effort from distance deflected off the post.

The same thing happened in the next match. This time it was a late kick off so it felt right.

Miroslav Klose scored in the first half but Germany could not go ahead as they won 8-0 in their first match.

“In the stands, in Ireland and in my home, and on the pitch cartwheel Q Bedlam.”

In the second minute of stoppage time against Germany, Steve Finnen’s long punt was flicked by Neil Quinn. Kane latched onto it and although a challenge forced him to delay the shoot, he somehow wrapped his foot around the ball and fired home. Oliver Khan gets the ball, something on his head, but it’s not enough to divert it wide. Instead, he clipped the post on its way to hitting the back of the net.

Cartwheel Q Bedlam in the stands, in Ireland and at my house, and on the pitch.

It was the only goal that Germany managed until the end. And it was beautiful in its simplicity.

Kane then opened the scoring in the final group stage match against Saudi Arabia. Gary Breen added a second before Damian Duff opened his World Cup account. His good effort was parried by the goalkeeper into his own goal.

Their first victory of the competition ensured they finished second, one point ahead of Cameroon. Their reward was a round of 16 match against Spain.

Robbie Keane scores a penalty against Spain/Ben Radford/Getty Images

Fernando Morientes put Shay Gwynn ahead after eight minutes but that only seemed to encourage McCarthy and his players. After the hour mark, Duff was brought down in the area and Ireland had a chance to equalise. Ian Harte, usually very reliable from the spot for Leeds, saw his effort saved by Iker Casillas and it looked like his World Cup adventure was over.

That was until the great Fernando Hierro tackled Quinn in the area and the referee had no choice but to point to the spot. With Hart sidelined, Kane was tasked with prolonging his nation’s World Cup run.

Casillas didn’t react either as the Irish number 10 curled it into the same corner that Harte had aimed for earlier.

Again, cue the bedlam in the stands and cartwheels on the pitch and in my back garden. This time Peter Drury added to the moment with his comment: “Irish men don’t go home early. If there’s a party they want to be there.”

Extra time ended and the game went to penalties. Kane, again, converted from the spot but missed the next three. Finan scored but Gezka Mendetta was able to win the game for Spain.

At the 2002 World Cup, only five players scored more goals than Kane, with Ronaldo scoring eight times, Rivaldo and Miroslav Klose each with five, while Jon Dahl-Thomassen and Christian Varey scored four each.

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