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MICHAEL ROBINSON 1958-2020

Alan Kennedy: “I can still picture Michael in Rome, with that huge smile, thinking: ‘This is what it’s all about!’”

Alan Kennedy and Michael Robinson were team mates in the Liverpool side that won the treble in 1984. Kennedy remembers a classy, intelligent and knowledgeable man.

Update:
Alan Kennedy: “I can still picture Michael in Rome, with that huge smile, thinking: ‘This is what it’s all about!’”
Peter Robinson - EMPICSPA Images via Getty Images

Spain’s football community were deeply saddened to learn of Michael Robinson’s passing this morning, and those thoughts and emotions were echoed over in Liverpool where some of his old team mates pay tributes of their own. Alan Kennedy and Robinson were team mates in the Liverpool side that won the treble in 1984, sharing moments such as that magical night at the Olimpico in Rome which delivered the club’s fourth European crown. Kennedy, who struck the decisive penalty in the shoot-out that night, remembers that even then, there was much more to Robinson than just footballing talent. He told AS that he is very sad at hearing the news of his passing, but grateful to able to pay him a tribute: “He always exuded a little bit of class about him. I found him a very intelligent person to talk to about his interests, he was always thinking ahead – I found him very knowledgeable just about any subject we could talk about”.

Robinson, 'a handful' for Liverpool's centrebacks

Kennedy recalls his first encounters with Robinson, who was always the one who gave Liverpool problems whenever they played Brighton – a strapping energetic and enthusiastic forward with good positional sense. “I played with him and I played against him a couple of times and as a player, he was a very strong player, who always got into the right places, was able to lay the ball off to someone else. I know that Lawrenson and Hansen always struggled against him,” he recalled.

The striker impressed Liverpool enough for them to buy him from Brighton for 250,000 pounds in the summer of 1983. Robinson heard the news from coach Jimmy Melia: “He told me I would be joining the biggest club in Britain. ‘Who? I asked, Rangers? Arsenal? I really didn’t want to hear him say United or Everton...’ He looked me straight in the eyes, ‘No, the biggest…’ He didn’t even have to say anything else, we hugged each other. I was elated”.

Joe Fagan had only just inherited Bob Paisley’s great Liverpool side, and for all the joy and excitement at joining, Robinson would be competing for a place with Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish.

“With Rush and Dalglish, it wouldn’t have been easy for anyone to break into that team but Michael forced his way into the team and certainly left an impression, on everybody whenever he came into the team,” Kennedy explained. “If you can join a team like Liverpool at that time, then they must think something of you. If you played well against Liverpool, then you had done very, very well - they would have taken a note of that. In the summer, when we were on the pre-season tour, I remember we were so, so happy about getting Michael Robinson – Hansen and Lawrenson in particular, were thinking, ‘Thank God we don’t have to play against him again, you know’ because he was a real handful”.

Michael Robinson giving Benfica a hard time in the European Cup
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Michael Robinson giving Benfica a hard time in the European CupDIARIO AS

First season, the treble

In his first season, Robinson scored 12 goals as Liverpool became the first team to win the English league title three years in a row. Alan Kennedy: “Michael was always, what you might call, a target man – a player you could put up front and he was comfortable either taking players on laying the ball back. Although Liverpool’s game slightly changed when he did play, there was still an urgency about him and about how the team played. There was one particular game when he scored a hat trick, I think against West Ham, he was all over the pitch, he was hungry for the ball – he always left a good impression - with the fans and with the people his was playing with”.

To cap the 1983-4 season, Fagan’s Liverpool met Rome in the European Cup final, taking on the Italians on home soil. Robinson started on the bench, coming on to give the team fresh legs in the first half of extra-time with the score at 1-1. “I’m not sure what role Michael was given in the final but it was slightly more defensive. But think about it - you’re playing against Roma, at their ground and it’s extra-time… it was tough going. He came through that experience pretty well. He did that job of holding the ball up, putting them under pressure – things that he was very, very good at. We did appreciate what he was doing for Liverpool even if he didn’t feel as confident on the pitch. Whatever he might have felt, we never thought that he was a lesser player than what we were,” Kennedy explained, before adding, “I’ve still got pictures of us during the celebration afterwards. I can still see Michael smiling, really happy and just thinking ‘This is what it’s all about – this is my little moment of glory, we’re the best team in the world - and long may it last!”.

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