My Favourite Player: Laurent Robert

– by Robert Black

Laurent Robert is famous amongst Newcastle fans for his delightful mixture of 40-yard wonder goals and even more wonderful 40-yard free-kicks. Ask ex-Toon defender Olivier Bernard what his former team-mate is famous for, though, and he still can’t remember, after taking a Robert rocket to the back of the head five years ago.

Robert unleashes a trademark drive for Toronto FC. Photo: Dustin Hall

Aside from being a fantastic footballer in the ‘olden days’ when Newcastle played in the Champions League, Robert was also noticeably French, with his off-the-field behaviour often leaving a particularly bad taste in the mouths of fans and management alike. A couple of particularly French incidents during the course of Robert’s career include foolishly falling out with Graeme Souness and refusing to sit on the bench whilst playing for Portsmouth – a decision which left relegation-stricken Pompey with only four substitutes for a six-pointer at home to Sunderland.

Still, Robert does have his fair share of très bien moments, with his two goals at St James’ Park against Tottenham worth a look on YouTube, and his Hollywood effort against Liverpool now living on in the form of Goal! 2: Living the Dream – a film so incredibly awful that Newcastle fans can barely sit through it.

After representing France and having a successful few seasons in the North East, Robert’s career took a spectacular, self-inflicted downturn, with his CV looking more like a low-budget airline flight schedule, rather than that of a former left-wing légende.

Despite playing for just three clubs in the first twelve years of his career, Robert somehow managed to turn out for seven clubs in three years between 2006 and 2009 – a feat that sounds more like a gameshow challenge than a serious attempt at getting back on the footballing tower. After what can only be described in the best cliched sporting terms as a ‘turbulent’ loan spell at Portsmouth, it would take three long years for us to see Robert return to this country to play.

However his Premier League comeback was somewhat disappointing, with the Frenchman bizarrely managing to find himself at struggling Derby County in 2008, and after making a rather impressive four appearances and managing to score no goals in the process for the Rams, he swiftly departed to the footballing stronghold of Toronto FC in Canada.

After a year of teaching the Canadians how to kick ‘soccer’ balls from far away with his left foot, Robert made a happy return to the open arms of an old friend, in the form of the Dennis Bergkamp-nutmeg-dummy Nikos Dabizas, when he signed for Greek outfit Larissa. His time in Greece would prove to be equally uninspiring, though, with only six appearances and no goals to trouble the statisticians, but at least the Frenchman could reminisce about the good old days with former team-mate Dabizas.

These six appearances would unfortunately mark ‘la fin’ of Robert’s career, and as a result, end the colourful chapter of a particularly French Frenchman, and if we’ve all learnt one thing, it’s that you shouldn’t fall out with Graeme Souness, or he might just stick a flag up your footballing Fenerbahce.

– Robert Black is an English Literature student from Hull, currently studying at the University of Hull.

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One Comment to “My Favourite Player: Laurent Robert”

  1. My one true love- making fun of the French. Great article!

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