Paul Robinson: A Noughties Icon

england gk paul robinson

Player Profile: Paul Robinson

Date of Birth: 15/10/1979 (age 40)

Height: 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)

Position: Goalkeeper   

National Team: England

International Caps: 41

Club Career

Best known for his spell at Tottenham Hotspur, Paul Robinson spent almost two decades between the sticks. He is one of just five goalkeepers to have scored in the Premier League, joining the illustrious club in 2007 after his long punt forward missed everyone, took a wicked bounce and caught Ben Foster in no man’s land. But it wasn’t Robbo’s first goal, surprisingly. The man mountain bagged earlier in his career for boyhood club Leeds United as he netted a last-minute equaliser against Swindon to send a League Cup tie into extra time back in 2003. He even went on to save a penalty in the following shootout as Leeds progressed to the next round, heroic.

Robinson joined Leeds at the age of 16 and made his professional debut two years later against Chelsea, impressing with his first of many clean sheets. But playing second fiddle to Nigel Martyn, appearances were few and far between. He made just 21 appearances in his first three seasons, most notably featuring in the Champions League in a one all draw with Barcelona. It wasn’t until the 2002/03 season where Robinson pinned down the number one spot.

After the 2002 World Cup, Leeds manager Terry Venables was less than impressed with Nigel Martyn’s demand for an extended holiday and decided to promote Robinson to Leeds’ number one. Robbo grasped the opportunity with both hands, quite literally, playing in all 38 league games that season. The number one shirt was his for good as Martyn joined Everton later that summer.

Leeds were relegated from the Premier League after the 2003/04 season, resulting in Robinson ending his seven-year stint at the club. In May 2004 Tottenham captured his signature for £1.5m after failing to sign him for almost double the price back in January, proving that good things come to those who wait.

Robinson was given the number one shirt on his arrival and made his Tottenham league debut in a one all draw against Liverpool. Spurs finished tenth that season with Robinson making 36 appearances in the Premier League.

He fast became an integral part of the Tottenham team and would play every league game for the next three consecutive seasons. During that time he cemented his place as England’s number one and became one of the most reliable goalkeepers in the Premier League. It’s fair to say he was a safe pair of hands.

In Robinson’s second season at White Hart Lane and Martin Jol’s first full season in charge, Spurs finished 5th, securing their place in the UEFA Cup. The following season they’d go on to reach the quarter finals eventually losing to Sevilla 4-3 on aggregate. Another 5th place finish in the Premier League meant another season in Europe. But once again they failed to go the distance this time crashing out in the last sixteen on penalties to PSV, despite Robinson’s best efforts. The England number one saved Danko Lazovic’s penalty to hand Spurs the advantage only for Jermaine Jenas and Pascal Chimbonda to miss their spot kicks. Tottenham down to a tee.

That same season Spurs clinched their first domestic title in decades beating Chelsea 2-1 in the League Cup Final. Robinson finally got his hands on a first major trophy, the highlight of his career. But the 2007-08 season proved to be his last in London.

A series of clangers for England signalled his decline in form and he was soon replaced as Tottenham’s number one by Radek Cerny for most of the season. Appearances here and there, usually in cup games, where overshadowed by mistakes. It was the beginning of the end and after 175 appearances his Tottenham career was over.

Next, Robinson would move back up north, but not to Leeds. He joined Blackburn Rovers on a five-year contract for £3.5m, becoming Paul Ince’s first signing, replacing Brad Friedel as number one. No pressure.

An upturn in form throughout his first two seasons at Ewood Park resulted in a number of big teams being linked with the former England number 1. Arsenal, Liverpool and even former side Tottenham all showed an interest at some point, but nothing ever materialised.

During his time at Rovers, Robinson entered the record books, albeit for the wrong reasons. He was in goal for Manchester United’s famous 7-1 win at Old Trafford where Dimitar Berbatov bagged five goals in the match. Later that season he became only the fifth goalkeeper in Premier League history to concede 500 or more league goals.

In the 2011-12 season Blackburn’s form dipped massively, and so did Robbo’s. He went 30 games without keeping a clean sheet, which, inevitably, ended in relegation to the Championship.

QPR and West Ham, both in the Premier League at the time, were rumoured to be interested in capturing his signature, but again nothing materialised. Speculation over his Ewood Park future continued to circulate throughout the season.

The rumours intensified in December when Robinson was dropped as number one. He wouldn’t feature for the rest of the season and in March it was revealed he’d suffered a back injury. Complications during surgery resulted in a lengthy layoff. In fact, Robinson didn’t feature again for well over a year.

His time at Ewood Park looked to be coming to an end, but on the 4th January 2014 Robinson returned to the first team for an FA Cup clash against Manchester City. Rumours surrounding his future never went away and in 2015 the inevitable finally happened, Robinson left Ewood Park once his contract was up in the summer, much to the disappointment of the Ewood faithful. He was a massive fan favourite, but that soon changed.

In January 2016 Robinson joined Blackburn’s fiercest rivals Burnley on a free transfer. Initially signing a contract until the end of the season, he’d later extend his stay at Turf Moor until 2017. He made less than ten appearances for the Clarets before announcing his retirement from professional football once his contract was up.

Paul Robinson’s career spanned 19 years during which he made 375 Premier League appearances, recording 86 clean sheets in England’s top flight. He was consistently reliable, and on his day, he was one of the Premier League’s best shot stoppers. He’ll be remembered for years to come by fans of Leeds, Tottenham and (some) Blackburn fans.

International Career

Paul Robinson made 41 appearances for England, but most fans will remember him for one moment and one moment only, that bobble against Croatia. A goal which perfectly sums up the Steve McClaren era.

Gary Neville played a routine pass back to Robinson and just as the England number one was setting himself up to make a clearance the ball took a wicked bobble bouncing over Robinson’s foot and into the goal. It was completely humiliating and it would prove to be the start of the end for Robinson and his England career, being replaced by Scott Carson as number one shortly after.

Earlier in his Three Lions career Robinson was part of England’s Euro 2004 squad but failed to feature at the tournament. Two years later he would play a key role in England reaching the quarter finals of the 2006 World Cup. Robbo, now England’s number one, kept four clean sheets in the five games he played in Germany, though he could do nothing to prevent Portugal knocking McClaren’s side out of the tournament on penalties.

Over the course of the next four years Robbo’s England career slowly declined. Multiple mistakes for both club and country resulted in him losing his number one shirt and in 2010 he announced he was calling time on his international career despite Sam Allardyce saying he was still the best keeper in England’s ranks.

Where is Paul Robinson now?

Today Robbo dabbles in a spot of punditry. He’s often seen on Sky Sports and BT offering his expert insight. He’s ever present on social media and has a weekly column with betting firm Fansbet.

Facts about Paul Robinson – Did You Know?

– During his lengthy spell on the sidelines at Blackburn, Robinson randomly studied Italian at Bocconi University in Milan.

– He spends much of his time doing inspirational chats to young footballers and can be booked as a guest speaker.