Football | The remarkable rise of Andy Robertson

Football | The remarkable rise of Andy Robertson
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Andy Robertson turns 25 today.

From rejection to the Reds, we chart the Scottish left back’s rise to the top…

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10 years ago, Any Robertson was released by Celtic.

The defender was 15, and deemed to small to make it as a professional footballer.

Devastated, the Glaswegian eventually joined the underage teams of lower league side Queens Park.

Robertson made his breakthrough in the amateur club’s 2012/13 league campaign.

Brought to Largs for a pre-season game, Robertson quickly made a strong impression in the senior ranks, and instantly became an ever-present under manager Gardner Speirs.

The industrious left back was handed his competitive debut against Berwick Rangers in the Irn-Bru Cup tie on July 28, 2012, and went on to make 40 appearances for the club, including four against Rangers.

Robertson found the net twice as Queens Park finished third in the Scottish Third Division that season.

He was provided with travel costs, but took a Christmas job at Marks and Spencers to earn some money.

“I saw him three nights a week and on a Saturday,” Spiers would later tell the Telegraph.

“He gave 100% in his training and matches, to go along with the talent he had. That’s the overriding thing that we remember.”

Robertson’s performances caught the attention of Dundee United, who brought the rising talent – with a solitary season of senior football under his belt – to Tannadice Park.

The Glasgow native made an instant impact, and scored his first goal for the club against Motherwell in just his seventh appearance.

His now trademark driving runs and relentless running quickly made him a fan favourite.

He would go on to make 44 appearances in total that season, bagging five goals, but the Premier League soon came calling.

Hull City snapped up Robertson after his debut season at Dundee for around £2.85 million.

Robertson left his homeland having just won the PFA Scotland Young Player of the Year award, as well as earning a place in the PFA Scotland Team of the Year for the 2013–14 Scottish Premiership.

His performances also led to an international call up, with the former Celtic academy player coming off the bench to win his first cap in a friendly against Poland in March 2014.

He started his first Scotland match two months later against Nigeria, and made five appearances in total in 2014.

Robertson scored Scotland’s only goal – his first for his country at senior level – in a 3-1 defeat to England that November.

“You just had to look at him at Dundee United last year, the natural aspects, and think ‘wow,'” an effusive Steve Bruce gushed when Robertson signed for Hull.

“As soon as you see him once whoosh up that line you go ‘bloomin’ heck’. There are not many people that move like that very often. It’s reward for everybody at the club, but it’s more rewarding for him than anybody.”

Once again, the Scotsman settled quickly.

He won the club’s player of the month award in August ’14, and made 24 appearances for the Tigers in his first season as the club suffered relegation from the Premier League.

He scored two goals and made a further 52 appearances including a start in the play-off final – as Hull won promotion from the Championship in his second season.

Robertson contributed four goals to the cause as the Yorkshire club bounced straight back to the top flight.

He made 33 Premier League appearances in his third and final season with the Tigers, scoring once as the club suffered another relegation.

“The most improved player I’ve ever seen in the Premier League”

– Phil Neville

Liverpool came knocking, and acquired the Scotland international for a mere £8 million ahead of the 2017/18 season.

Had Mohamed Salah not been signed in the same window, the capture of Robertson would eventually have been regarded as the summer’s best bargain.

Unlike at his previous clubs, it took Robertson a while to establish himself at Anfield.

His arrival was greeted with little fanfare.

He was regarded as an exciting attacking full back, but there were questions over the strength of his defending.

Given the Merseyside club already had Alberto Moreno on the books, the acquisition of a left back from a team which had just conceded 80 Premier League goals didn’t fill most fans with resounding optimism.

Robertson made his debut in the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace in August 2017, but found himself playing second fiddle to the erratic Moreno for the opening weeks of the season.

Jurgen Klopp felt it would take the former Queens Park defender time to adapt to the Reds’ philosophy, and used Robertson sparingly until Moreno picked up an injury in December.

Robertson was given his chance, and he grabbed it with both hands.

The energetic left back proved far more defensively sound than his competitor, and instantly endeared himself to the Liverpool faithful with his lung-busting runs and courageous tackles.

His distribution, overlapping, and crossing caught the eye, and he had created an excellent understanding with Phillipe Coutinho before the Brazilian’s mid-season departure to Barcelona.

Moreno returned from injury to find that Liverpool’s problem position had found a solution in the shape of Andy Robertson.

Robertson grew in prominence as the season unfolded, and produced several memorable performances in the Reds’ march to the Champions League final.

The viral clip of his relentless harrying and pressing of virtually the entire Manchester City team in one determined run sums up his attitude and commitment to the cause.

He made 30 appearances for all competitions in his first season under Klopp, scoring one goal for the Reds, and forming an excellent left side of the defence alongside Virgil Van Dijk after the latter joined Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018.

Liverpool finished fourth and ultimately fell shirt against Real Madrid in the final, a game which Robertson started.

There was little the Scotsman could do to prevent Lloris Karius’ howlers or Gareth Bale’s wonder goal, but his incredible tackle to deny Cristiano Ronaldo in the dying stages was further evidence that Robertson belongs at the very top level.

He ended his first season on Merseyside with one goal and five assists, and had earned his status as a firm fan favourite.

His excellent impact earned him a new deal in January 2018, which will keep him at Anfield until 2024.

Alex McLeish named him as Scotland captain in September 2018, and has won 28 caps for his country thus far, scoring twice.

Liverpool fans have long had an affinity with Scottish players, and their current left back is the club’s latest cult hero to hail from the country

He is the club’s most consistent full back since Steve Finnan, and quite possibly their finest left back since Steve Nicol.

Robertson has been even more impressive this season.

Liverpoool’s defence has been an enormous factor in their excellent league campaign, and Robertson has made a huge contribution at both ends of the pitch.

The 25-year-old has made 28 league appearances so far this season, with Liverpool keeping 16 clean sheets and conceding just 15 goals in those matches.

He has made 70 tackles and 24 interceptions, as well as 179 recoveries.

Robertson has also contributed eight assists in the league, and has created 11 big chances for the Reds.

He is a constant outlet on the left flank, and his crossing is generally superb.

Even Jose Mourinho was bowled over by Robertson’s energy after Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Manchester United at Anfield.

“I am still tired just looking at Robertson,” Mourinho claimed.

“He makes 100-metre sprints every minute, absolutely incredible, and these are qualities.”

The only thing lacking from his game is perhaps more goals, but at 25, he is improving all the time. He is part of a youthful back five which could represent the Reds for years to come.

Robertson’s performances this season have cemented his position as the league’s left back, and it would be a huge surprise if he wasn’t named in the PFA Team of the Year.

That won’t concern the humble Glaswegian, who will be fare more concerned with doing his part to end Liverpool’s title drought.

It is the defender who plays to his right who earns most of the plaudits, but Andy Robertson is one of the first names on the Reds’ team sheet.

Not bad for a kid who was released by Celtic 10 years ago.