by Frank Smith
THERE is something hugely refreshing about a former England international agreeing to join a new club after a quick one-on-one chat with the manager.
In an age of multi-millionaire footballers, pushy agents and transfer committees, it was a throwback to yesteryear to hear that Paul Robinson – capped 41 times by his country – had agreed his contract with Burnley manager Sean Dyche in a matter of minutes.
Especially considering he had just spent seven and a half years at arch rivals Blackburn Rovers.
“He spoke to me on the Sunday, I went in on the Monday morning to do a little session and then sat with him in his office for an hour to have a chat,” said 36-year-old Robinson.
“He told me about his philosophy, how he does things, the players he wants to bring to the club and the future.
“He was very, very impressive in the way he conducted himself.
“We sat there and did the contract talks together and I think it took about two minutes.
“He said ‘This is where I am at financially, this is where you are at and let’s do this and that’.
“He phoned the chief executive and I went down to the ground to finish off my medical and sign the contract – and that was it done.
“It was one of the easiest decisions I have ever had to make.”
Robinson had been “frozen out” at Blackburn Rovers for five or six months and, by his own admission, had fallen out of love with the sometimes not-so-beautiful game.
And, when his contract at Ewood Park was up in the summer, he had no desire to seek a new deal elsewhere. Robinson had simply had enough.
He explained: “The way it ended at Blackburn was not an ideal end for me.
“I was not involved and, by the time my contract was up, I did not miss the day-to-day life of being a footballer and I had fallen out of love with the game.
“I played a lot of golf, took the kids to the school and it was nice to be able to take the kids on holiday during the school holidays.
“But I ended up starting to miss football. But I wanted to do it properly. I wanted to get myself fit and didn’t take it for granted that I would just walk straight back into a team again.”
The former Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur No.1 decided in early November he wanted to give it another go and, by mid-December, Dougie Freedman at Nottingham Forest had been in touch with his agent and he’d started training with the Reds.
Robinson was loving working under his former goalkeeping coach at Leeds United, Steve Sutton, and Freedman was contemplating signing him, but he was trying to juggle his squad as their transfer embargo limits the number of players they are allowed.
But, after a brief chat with Dyche, the move to Burnley was a no-brainer and Robinson is adamant the promotion-chasers have acquired a better goalkeeper than the one who left their Lancashire rivals – despite his long lay-off.
“I am definitely coming back to football better than when I left it,” he said.
“I was not involved with the first team at Blackburn or training with the first team day-to-day. For five or six months I had no involvement whatsoever.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, I am in a better place physically and mentally.
“The manager has been great with me and has given me a contract until the end of the season and has said we will leave it open and talk about it.
“But in my mind I have not come back for (just) five or six months.
“I am definitely looking beyond this season and let’s see where it takes me.”