Souness says he’ll miss the good times with Michael Robinson
Graeme Souness captained Liverpool to the treble in 1984 and forged a long-lasting friendship with Michael Robinson, “He was a very charming guy - a pleasure to be around”.
Whenever the subject of Liverpool’s greatest players crops up, Graeme Souness’ name is right there among the club greats: Dalglish, Hunt, Keegan, Rush, Barnes, Fowler… Michael Robinson’s name might not be up there at the top of the roll call of Liverpool royalty but as Souness pointed out today, “He brought something different to the club and Joe [Fagan] could see that. In Liverpool’s success, he played his part”.
It was during Fagan’s gruelling training sessions at Melwood and in the hours before and after Liverpool’s matches that Souness and Robinson struck up a friendship that lasted almost four decades. On learning that his old team mate had passed away in Madrid this morning, Souness admitted that he is going to miss a good friend, someone he admired and who was always great company.
Michael Robinson joins the league champions
Robinson, as Souness told AS this evening, quickly adapted to life at the club and in the city. “Coming into a big football club with a very demanding set of rules, dressing room are hard places. He quickly fitted in because his attitude and work ethic was good; he was quickly accepted by the rest of the team. He complemented the attack, with Rush, who was lightning quick and more of a goal scorer and Kenny just off him who was a real craftsman. He brought something different and played his part in that year when we won three trophies. So between his abilities, his personality and his work ethic he was quickly accepted by all the boys,” the former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder explained.
Souness remembers Robinson as outgoing, sociable and excellent company. “I was a good pal of his. If Kenny was ever injured or didn’t travel, Michael was my roommate,” he explained. “I got on exceptionally well with Michael. When he first came to Liverpool, we used to go to a restaurant on the Wirral called the 'Top Hat', where we used to have dinner with our wives – just the four of us, a few bottles of wine on a Thursday night and I became very close to him, very, very quickly when he arrived. That friendship endured after he left Liverpool and continued when he went to Spain”.
A new direction in television
After a series of ongoing knee problems, Robinson decided to call time on his playing career but instead of returning home to England, he decided to stay in Spain and almost immediately, was recruited by Canal+ who were setting up their new pay-per-view platform. He showed versatility by turning his hand to something completely different, and also that he had a flair for television. “I wasn’t really surprised that he was successful over there but the enormity of his success surprised me,” says Souness, who adds that he can only applaud him – not just for making a go of it but doing well at it. “There was a lot more to Michael, he always saw the bigger picture – he wasn’t just your ordinary footballer. Him becoming a large football personality and pundit, or one of the largest in Spain – that’s quite a remarkable achievement in a country with such an enormous footballing culture. He was universally accepted for his personality and his knowledge and his command of the language – he would tell me that his Spanish wasn’t perfect but with those three traits, and being the charming man he was, it’s not surprising that he was such a big hit. To do what he did, to go to a proper football country like Spain, and become a trusted, knowledgeable authority on sport in general - that really takes some doing – and I don’t think we’ll see it again”.
Fagan pulls the plug on pre-final penalty practice
In the end, Robinson never had to take that sixth penalty against Roma but that night and the whole build up to it remains fresh in Souness’ mind. It also enabled him to see another side of his team mate: “We practiced penalties a couple of days before - four of us missed and one person scored, that was Stevie Nicol. So Joe Fagan said, ‘Oh that’s enough of that, I tell you what, stop - let's just try to win the game in 90 minutes, ok’. On the night, I went off for the toss up and when I came back, I said to Phil Neal, you go first, get us off to a good start, as I’m talking, Stevie Nicol pipes us, ‘I want to go first…’ I said off you go then, and then Michael put his hand up so I said, if it goes to the sixth one, you can take one. There were some big players that night that didn’t fancy them… But Michael put his hand up because he wanted to be involved”.
A friendship which Souness says he is going to miss: “He called me Chuz, which is short for Charlie and I called him Cat because when I first met him, he told me he thought he was a decent goalkeeper. I said, ‘Oh fuck off!’ So I remember him putting his gloves on and he’s in goal, and he wasn’t the best, but he wasn’t the worst. So from that moment on, he was christened The Cat - that was my name for him. If I was going out for dinner, he’d be the first person I’d call. He was a great story teller - he loved to laugh and loved a glass of red wine. Whenever we came over to Madrid for work, we’d go for dinner afterwards, he’d pick the wine, and I’d paid the bill! Whatever restaurant we went in, everybody knew him; He was always good to be around - it was an absolute pleasure to be with him”.
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