The Manchester United midfielder was instrumental in dragging Roy Hodgson's side back into their eagerly-anticipated friendly clash with Ireland as he fed Daniel Sturridge to set up Frank Lampard's 23rd-minute equaliser.
But Republic skipper Keane witnessed at close hand his former Tottenham team-mate's overall contribution, and it came as no surprise to him. He said: "Michael is a good friend of mine. I said it years and years ago, he is certainly one of the best midfielders I have played against."
Keane added: "He sees the pass very, very quickly. When you see the pass that quickly, it creates so much space for other players and it takes three or four players out of the game.
"You saw that tonight, the understanding that he has with players. He doesn't need to take three, four, five touches, it's one touch, two touches.
"He has probably been the most under-rated player in England for such a long time. I never understand how he doesn't get picked for the England squad on a regular basis. You saw him tonight - I saw that years ago."
Ireland enjoyed a dream start to their first encounter with England in 18 years when Shane Long powered a superb header past keeper Joe Hart from Seamus Coleman's pinpoint cross.
Long's effort sparked delirious celebrations among the 11,000 or so Irish fans and reminded Keane of his former international strike partner Niall Quinn.
He said with a smile: "It was a great ball by Seamus and it was a great leap by Longy - it was like Quinny in the day, wasn't it?
"It was good, it set the stall out for us. We were disappointed to concede the goal after that, but all in all, on reflection 1-1 is probably a good result for everybody."
- Sports & Recreation
- Daniel Sturridge
- Frank Lampard
- Roy Hodgson