Robbo was better than Beckham

by , December 21, 2008

John Robertson. A Scottish apprentice who got into the first team reckoning and made his first League appearance in 1970, steadily going out of favour with the manager Alan Brown suddenly made a U turn on the arrival of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor. Talent that was raw and hidden by a casual approach to football in general. An overweight smoker who looked like a Sunday league player turned out to be arguably the best winger in the world.

From 1975 he contributed more than anyone in the Nottingham Forest glory years. A right footed left winger crossed a ball with ease, in his own territory he deceived and jinked by the best full backs the League could offer. Robbo, as he is affectionately known, could, as they say ‘turn on a tanner and give you three ha’pence change’

He supplied the ammunition for the strikers and took his own chances to score goals that would have been repeated on today’s TV time and time again. He played all but one League match from 1976/7 to 1979/80 period. During this time he won 3 League Cup medals a League Championship medal and two European Champions medals.

In both European Cup Finals Robbo was instrumental, he provided the cross for Trevor Francis’ winner in 79 in Munich and scored the winner himself in the 1980 final in Madrid. It would also be cruel not to mention his diving header v Cologne, I reckon that was his only ever headed goal.

On the domestic scene he played 384 times for the Reds and scored 95 goals in that time. He would often be closed down by two markers and often skipped in between them taking the ball as if he had the right to!

Branded as ‘scruffy and unattractive’, Brian Clough said he always sat next to him and he felt like Errol Flynn; he certainly brightened Cloughie’s day up and put many smiles on the Trent side fans with his skills. Robbo was put on the spot literally as nominated penalty taker and scored nearly all of them including a couple against Liverpool in crucial cup matches; cool as a cucumber we never dreamed he would ever miss one.

I saw him in the City Ground car park one morning and forgot my self by shouting “Robbo”. He didn’t know me from Adam but casually put his hand up and nodded in acknowledgement, I became a hero to my daughter and nephew at the time.

Robbo also represented his country and scored the winner against England in 1981 , as an Englishman I cheered (gulp)

He is now in management now with former teammate Martin O’Neill but we remember him making it look easy in the hardest League in the world. I say he was better than Beckham and if he were Brazilian he would be up there with Pele.

A true legend.