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#PaulRobinson – The Goalscoring Goalkeeper

Paul Robinson Blackburn Rovers

While Goalkeepers are paid to keep clean sheets and pull off saves that can win games, there are rare occurrences of shot-stoppers getting involved on the other side of the pitch.

The sight of goalkeepers running towards the opposing net during the dying minutes of the match is rare, however, them actually finding the back of the net is as scarce as hen’s teeth.

There are only five keepers who have achieved to score in the Premier League and one of them is Paul Robinson. Robinson is one of the forgotten faces of English Football, a player who was always liked despite being abundantly fallible. Paul Robinson was never the best in the league but was widely underappreciated outside the clubs that he played for. From being a sporadic player at Leeds United to become a fan favourite at Blackburn Rovers, Paul has seen the highest of highs and lowest of lows. The 19-year-old career in the Premiership isn’t decorated by an arsenal of trophies but is a collection of moments that made him a great in the eyes of millions of fans. It would be an unforgivable sin to not revisit his time in England’s Top Flight.

 

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Where it all began…

Paul Robinson kick started his football career with York City’s youth set-up before switching to Leeds youth academy. Moving to Leeds proved to be a step in the right direction as Paul Robinson lifted the FA Youth Cup in the 1996-97 season. Strong performances pushed him up the order as the first team coaching staff started to notice Robinson’s potential. The 1998-99 campaign saw him get promoted to the first team, making his senior debut against Chelsea on 25th October. For a goalkeeper, the happiness of keeping a clean sheet is like finding an oasis in the desert and Paul felt the same when he kept a clean sheet against Chelsea’s strikeforce of Gianfranco Zola and Gustavo Poyet on his debut.

However, the next season would be a stroll in the barren land as the 21-year-old failed to make a single appearance all season. The sporadicity of Robinson’s appearances took a hit on his confidence yet he patiently waited for his moment to shine. After playing deputy to Nigel Martyn for over a year, Paul got his chance as Martyn’s injury kept him out for months. A taste of European football along with regular league action saw Paul make 24 appearances that term. He couldn’t do enough to convince David O’Leary to give him the No.1 spot between the sticks.

After another full season without a single game, new Leeds United manager Terry Venables changed his preference to Paul Robinson following a dispute with Martyn. The 2002-03 campaign saw Paul come to life as he made 38 league outings out of 38; however, a poor record of 61 goals conceded raised a few eyebrows.

The 2003-04 season saw Paul score his first goal. In the League Cup, Paul Robinson scored a header to equal the scores and send the game to extra-time. After a goalless extra-time, Robinson displayed heroics at his resident post, saving a penalty and propelling Leeds to a win. His gigs in the league went from bad to worse as he conceded 75 goals in 36 games, witnessing Leeds’ downfall to relegation.

After seven bumpy yet memorable years at the Elland Road, Paul bid farewell at the end of 2003-04 season, signing for Tottenham Hotspur for £1.5 million in May 2004.


Legendary Career…

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Paul Robinson’s league debut for Spurs came in a 1-1 draw against Liverpool. Paul was able to keep it clean at the back, registering 12 clean sheets in 36 league games he played. A decent season saw him gain massive support from the Tottenham faithful. Under manager Martin Jol, Robinson went onto play 76 out of 76 Top flight games in the next two seasons, a proof of the trust that Jol had placed in the Englishman. It was during the third season at White Hart Lane that Robinson scored his second professional goal, a long punt that comically went over the head of Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster. In the process, Paul became the third goalie to score in the league after Peter Schmeichel in 2001 and Brad Friedel in 2004. Strong performances in all sectors drove Spurs to two back-to-back 5th place finishes.

The 2007-08 season would prove to be a fruitful year in terms of silverware for Paul at White Hart Lane. Until now, people presented their valid doubts about Paul not being the right person in the goal for a big team like Spurs and in many ways, the 2007-08 season proved why these questions were legitimate.  A costly error during International duty saw Paul’s confidence take a plunge in the deep pit of desolation. His form was badly affected at club level as well, leaving the manager no choice but to drop him. In a way, this season was defined as a “Tragedy of Errors” for Paul. He made silly mistakes first in the FA Cup, then during the international duty and then in the League Cup final. Football is a cruel sport, one mistake and the narrative of a player changes from a fan favourite to a sloppy goalkeeper. Then came the League Cup final against Chelsea which presented an opportunity for Robinson to win his first piece of silverware in his professional career.

Paul Robinson was to blame for Chelsea’s opening goal but Spurs fought back, scoring the winner in the extra-time to win the League Cup.

 

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After 175 games and 51 clean sheets, the 29 year old Paul Robinson joined Blackburn Rovers in July 2008 for £3.5 million. Paul Robinson’s debut game started in an exciting fashion as Rovers won 3-2 in a nail-biting clash against Everton. During a league cup match in 2009, Paul saved two penalties in the shoot-out against Chelsea to drive Rovers home with a win. Decent performances in two seasons intensified interests from other clubs with Arsenal being highly interested, however, no move materialized. That season saw him being linked to a number of teams throughout the season, particularly because of a strong first half of the campaign for the Riversiders. However, with turnoff the Year, their fortunes dipped sharply as they finished 15th in the league. On the road, Robinson suffered some of the worst moments of his playing career: facing utter humiliation after conceding 7 goals against Manchester United in one match, conceding a total of 500 top flight goals. The 2011-12 season can be a correct depiction of how 2020 has been so far for all of us. Blackburn looked like a team fighting a gun battle with a knife; their poor strategy meant they suffered relegation to the Championship. Robinson also had the worst season at Ewood Park, conceding 71 goals and only keeping 3 clean sheets in 34 league games.

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Upon relegation, Paul Robinson was touted to leave Blackburn in favour of joining a Top Flight team. Speculations fuelled when Brad Friedel was said to be aiming a return at the Rovers. All this hysteria depleted Robinson’s image resulting in him getting dropped from the team and also being listed out on loan. Robinson was ruled out for the rest of the season with a back injury. Further complications from surgery caused pulmonary embolism pushing his recovery date further back by six months.

The 34-year-old used this time to expand his knowledge by studying Italian at Bocconi University. After a year’s absence, Paul made a comeback to the game, featuring in a U-21 match in December 2013. Robinson also returned to league action in January 2014, keeping a clean sheet against Doncaster Rovers. He was able to keep his position in the team, impressing upon a return and helping them secure 8th place in the Championship.

The 2014-15 season didn’t go as planned as Robinson was dropped from the team after a few games in favor of loan signing Jason Steele. The 35 year old made his intentions clear of leaving the Rovers mainly because of lack of playing time. The club management announced that they’ll allow Robinson to leave at the end of the season.

With one foot already reaching the retirement line, Paul Robinson signed with Burnley in January 2016. Under Sean Dyche they gained promotion to Premier League and citing a chance to play in the Top Flight again, Robinson signed a contract extension. Paul Robinson made his Burnley debut in November 2016 against Manchester City. His time at Burnley was short lived in terms of appearances, in over one-and-a-half-year; he featured only 3 times for the Clarets. The 38 year old hanged his gloves in July 2017, drawing close to a 19 year old career.

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What was Paul Robinson, the footballer like…

6 feet 3 inch Paul Robinson’s keeper’s playing style replicates to that of players playing in that era. In many ways, he was the old school keeper who relied on his reflexes. The word sweeper-keeper never existed in Robinson’s dictionary as he often avoided keeping the ball at his feet. His large frame made him a strong contender to win aerial duels and collect crosses.

Robinson never had very accurate distribution, but one thing he always had in his locker was to pull off a brilliant save based on thumping reflexes. While his positioning was always well appreciated, it was his antics and acrobatics between the posts that garnered most attention. The fans are always excited to see a goalkeeper pull off some acrobatic saves or perform tricks that gets the heart racing. There are very few keepers across the globe that can remain the game for so long despite having nothing special in their bag. Robinson doesn’t fit into the section of the best Premier League Goalkeepers but with discipline and dedication, one can come a long way in world’s most competitive league.


What are the moments we remember Paul Robinson for…

A dream Start

We often celebrate the arrival of a striker in the Premier League when he scores a goal on his debut. Yet, we never give enough recognition to a goalkeeper who on his debut pulls off a noteworthy performance. Paul Robinson had a dream start to his Premier League career. After patiently waiting for his chance, Paul finally debuted for the first team in the 1998-99 season against Chelsea. Robinson was over the moon for keeping a clean sheet against a fiery Chelsea Blues side.

Savior against Swindon Town

In the league cup of 2003-04, Swindon Town was leading at Leeds 2-1 as the game entered the final moments. Robinson hurried towards opposition goal for a corner and surprising every person at Elland Road, scored through a thunderous header in the last minute, equalizing right at the death and sending the game into extra-time. The Englishman then pulled off a spectacular game winning save in the penalty shoot-out as Leeds got past Swindon in the League Cup.

The long punt against Watford

It’s a peculiar sight for a keeper to see his name on the scoresheet. Perhaps it’s worth it in the end. In 2007, Robinson scored an outrageous goal against Watford and Ben Foster was the unlucky keeper at the receiving end. He punted the ball downfield from the edge of his own penalty area and over opposite number Foster. Paul became only the third keeper in the League history to score a goal. While it was a moment of joy for Robinson, it was a moment of humiliation for Foster.

One and only trophy

Paul Robinson was having a year to forget. The 2007-08 season didn’t start on a good note at all, with the Englishman riding low on confidence due to regular errors that he made in games. After being replaced in the starting line-up, Robinson had an uphill task to make a comeback. He finally returned to the line-up and despite irregular form was chosen to start in goal in a League Cup final against Chelsea. Robinson did commit a blunder leading to Blues’ goal but was alert since then and made several saves that kept Spurs in the match. In the end, Spurs won in the extra-time and Robinson won his only senior honor.

Premier League Return at last

Blackburn Rovers got relegated at the end of the 2011-12 season. Paul Robinson played a Premier League game on 13th May 2012. The road ahead was bumpy for Robinson. After 3 seasons with Blackburn in the Championship, he joined Burnley in January 2016. Under Sean Dyche, the Clarets achieved promotion to Premier League and Robinson’s long standing dream to play a Premier League game could soon turn into reality. After a wait of 4 years, Robinson played his first league game since 2012 on November 26, 2016.


Where is Paul Robinson now…

After announcing retirement in 2017, Paul Robinson has kept a relatively low profile in public. He appears on various podcasts from time to time and also on TV as an occasional Pundit. However, he has often chosen to live his life privately and not make any public appearances.


What Paul Robinson says about Paul Robinson…

“If I could be a superhero, I would be Batman. He’s got the least silly tights”

Paul Robinson on his goal: “It’s a freak goal…I didn’t celebrate the goal out of respect that I have for any goalkeeper. It was fantastic to score a goal, can’t really pretend that I meant it. Criticism can be very difficult, very hard, depending on what level of criticism is and as a goalkeeper it’s about how you react and you have to remain mentally strong.”

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Paul Robinson on his retirement: “Unfortunately, my back problem returned towards the end of last season and has prevented me being ready for the start of the new season. Taking everything into consideration I’ve decided to announce my retirement. I have been very fortunate to play the game I love for so many years and make it my career. I intend to take a short time out to spend time with my family and explore the different options available to me. I would like to sincerely thank all my family and friends who have stood by me throughout my playing career. I have been very lucky to play for four very special football clubs and my country.”


What others say about Paul Robinson…

Burnley boss Dyche: “Paul played a big part in what we have achieved over the past couple of seasons — literally at times last season — and always as an important member of the group. He made a big contribution during his time at Burnley and we would all like to wish him well in his next venture, as well as making sure that he will always be welcome back at Turf Moor.”

Pat Jennings on Robinson’s error in Euro 2008 qualifier: “We all know the game, if the ball pops up suddenly like that few goalkeepers would have done anything about it. Paul has cleared his lines thousands of times, so you have to make allowances for the ball bobbling over his foot in such circumstances.

Martin Jol: “Why do you think he’s the number one in England? It’s because he’s a tough lad. He trains hard, he knows you need a good mentality to be the number one in England. It wasn’t a mistake, you could judge him harshly and say it was a silly situation. It was a freak moment, all the top players will tell you they have similar moments.”


Trivia

Paul Robinson ranks eighth in the list of goalkeepers with the most Premier League appearances, and second among English stoppers behind only David James.

Goalkeeper Paul Robinson is the only ‘keeper to score, assist and win a penalty in the Premier League

As a much loved player, the Leeds United Supports’ Club voted him as the Player of the Year in 2003. Again, for the 2010-2011 season, he won the Player of the Year, however, this time for his then club Blackburn Rovers. When Robinson scored for Spurs, he became the first goalkeeper in the Premiership to score for the winning team.


Paul Robinson stats , what you can find on Wiki ( and other sites )…

Teams Season Age Played Started Minutes Goals Assists Yellow Cards Red Cards
Burnley 2016-2017 36 3 3 270 0 0 0 0
Bolton Wanderers 2011-2012 32 17 15 1423 0 0 4 0
Blackburn Rovers 2011-2012 31 34 34 3060 0 1 0 0
Bolton Wanderers 2010-2011 31 35 35 3150 0 1 7 0
Blackburn Rovers 2010-2011 30 36 36 3195 0 0 0 0
Bolton Wanderers 2009-2010 30 25 24 2191 0 1 7 0
Blackburn Rovers 2009-2010 29 35 35 3084 0 0 1 0
West Bromwich Albion 2008-2009 29 35 35 3019 0 1 7 1
Blackburn Rovers 2008-2009 28 35 35 3105 0 0 0 0
Tottenham Hotspur 2007-2008 27 25 25 2250 0 0 0 0
Tottenham Hotspur 2006-2007 26 38 38 3420 0 0 0 0
West Bromwich Albion 2005-2006 26 33 33 2864 0 3 7 0
Tottenham Hotspur 2005-2006 25 38 38 3420 0 0 1 0
Tottenham Hotspur 2004-2005 24 36 36 3214 0 0 0 0
West Bromwich Albion 2004-2005 25 30 28 2491 1 0 6 0
Leeds United 2003-2004 23 36 36 3238 0 0 1 1
Leeds United 2002-2003 22 38 38 3420 0 0 0 0
Leeds United 2000-2001 20 16 15 1369 0 0 0 0
Newcastle United 1999-2000 20 11 2 319 0 1 0 0
Watford 1999-2000 20 32 29 2677 0 1 9 0
Leeds United 1998-1999 18 5 4 405 0 0 0 0

 


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A football romantic who eats, drinks and sleeps football. There are two times of the year for him: Football season and waiting for the football season. Aspires to become a Football journalist !

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