Andrew Robertson has been one of the signings of the decade in the Premier League. We take a look at his journey towards becoming one of Europe’s finest full-backs.
“Life at this age is rubbish with no money #needajob” tweeted an 18-year-old Andrew Robertson. The tweet which could have easily been a mirror to the devastating and lethal nature of capitalism, the disparity in financial footing has now acquired a cult fanbase for what it signifies on the surface.
life at this age is rubbish with no money #needajob
— Andrew Robertson (@andrewrobertso5) August 18, 2012
For Robertson, football still meant nothing more than a hobby back then, a hobby he believed in and tried to keep afloat with part-time jobs. The idea of putting on the famous red Liverpool shirt and romping up and down the flanks on Champions League nights was far from a distant dream for him back then – it was an obscene school of thought.
Having been rejected and dumped by the club of his dreams, Celtic because of his slight build and weak frame, Robertson arrived at Queen’s Park’s amateur side in 2009. At a time when it was easy to not hold on to the thread of his dreams and give up instead, Robertson remain unnerved and kept faith.
That tells a lot about him, especially when you see him sprinting up and down the field incessantly now, putting in every bit of him and leaving it all out on the field. “I am still tired just looking at Robertson. He makes 100-metre sprints per minute, absolutely incredible,” former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho was very un-Mourinho-like gracious commenting on the Scot after the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool.
There are few players in the Liverpool squad that embody the Klopp and Kop passion more than Robertson and that has endeared him to the Reds faithful. But, it wasn’t always this way. At Queen’s Park, Andrew also had to attend university to make sure he had a line to pursue if his footballing career did not pan out and even worked some part-time shifts in between football training and academics.
He would get his reward for having faith in himself soon though, as Queen’s Park called him up for first-team action. Robertson seized this opportunity with both hands and managed to impress everyone in his debut season to such an extent that it earned him a move to Dundee United in 2013.
The full-back quickly took to the demands and requirements of full-time professional football and became an integral part of that Dundee United side which finished fourth in the Scottish Premiership. The season ended with Robertson winning the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year and he was even included in the Team of the Year.
His breakthrough season with Dundee United saw him getting attention from the national team and he would soon become an important member for the Scottish national football team. But, that was far from being the only institution showing interest in Andy Robertson.
Hull City approached the young Scottish full-back and secured his services in a £2.85 million deal. In his debut season, Robertson would experience both the highs and lows of English football. Written off by the English media, he managed to impress in the one-off chances he would get with the first-team but Hull City could not avoid relegation that season.
Robertson chose to stay with the club and he was rewarded for it with a more solid spot in the starting XI. Across that 2015-16 season in the Championship, Robertson’s energy and pace would be vital to Hull winning promotion on their very first attempt.
Upon returning to the Premier League, Robertson started catching the eye of clubs higher up the table. One of those clubs were Liverpool, who had been very inconsistent and sloppy at the back. The left side of the defence, in particular, was an Achilles heel, with Alberto Moreno’s unreliable performances forcing Jurgen Klopp to field James Milner as a makeshift left-back.
The Reds duly launched the offensive for the Scot, who had once again been relegated with Hull City. This time, Robertson ended up leaving the club, but life would begin on a slow note for him at Liverpool. Their fans considered Ben Chilwell to be a more potent replacement for that spot at left-back and Moreno was still the first-team regular.
The story around Anfield revolves about how Robertson’s defensive understanding of the game did not exactly coincide with Jurgen Klopp’s system of the Gegenpress.
Being a proponent and pioneer of the famous Gegenpressing philosophy at FSV Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund, Klopp insists that his players at Liverpool understand the concept that revolves around pressurising the opponent in order to retrieve possession right after losing the ball because that is when the opponent is at its most vulnerable.
And, being the excellent man manager that Klopp is, the Andrew Robertson of now cuts a different technical expert to the raw, uncut diamond that first signed for Liverpool. He had bags of energy, cylinders of pace to burn and the relentless, endless will to romp up and down the left flank to begin with.
But, with Klopp he underwent an education in football that honed his technical knowledge and understanding of the game especially at the back, and that helped him consolidate his position as one of the best left-backs in the world.
Manchester City were well on their way to securing a record breaking 100 points in the domestic league last season, but they met their match in Liverpool on both the domestic and continental front.
Robertson, fuelled by the magnitude of the occasion and the adrenaline of the importance of the game, dropped masterclasses against the Mancunians and suffocated Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling while giving nightmares to Kyle Walker at the same time.
Liverpool’s fairy tale run in the Champions League last season met a sad end in the final where Loris Karius became the pantomime villain. The Reds came so close to exhausting the years of trolls, banter and jokes aimed at their club, but were left undone by a rampant Real Madrid midfield and a marauding Gareth Bale.
Robertson’s words after the game, however, sum up him and Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool more than anything else and it goes to show how he has reached the very zenith of world football from nowhere.
“It was an achievement to get here but second is as good as last in my book. That is just how I am. I’d rather have had a stinker and we won. I’d rather 10 players turned up and I didn’t but we went home with the trophy. That’s just the type of person that I am.”
The 24-year-old now is by far the best left-back on show in the Premier League and one of the finest across Europe. It is quite scary how good he can become, considering his peak years still beckon him. As far as his place in the Liverpool first-team is concerned, there is hard to imagine a starting lineup without him now.
Relentlessness, commitment, desire and a will goes a long way in giving raw talent a fight for greatness and Andrew Robertson’s success story is yet another chapter in the long story of the pinnacle that hard work, obsession and faith in dreams can take you to.