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Obituary: Michael Robinson

Ireland and Liverpool football star who enjoyed a successful media career in his adopted Spain, writes Sean Ryan

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Pace and punch: Ex-Ireland striker Michael Robinson. Photo: Allsport/Getty Images

Pace and punch: Ex-Ireland striker Michael Robinson. Photo: Allsport/Getty Images

Getty Images

Pace and punch: Ex-Ireland striker Michael Robinson. Photo: Allsport/Getty Images

Michael Robinson, who died in Spain last week aged 61 after a battle with melanoma was, for four years at the start of the 1980s, the answer to the Republic of Ireland's perennial search for a forward with pace and punch. If it hadn't been for the incompetence of referees, the addition of Robinson would have been the master-stroke that secured Ireland's first qualification for a World Cup finals tournament.

Born in Leicester, but aware of some Irish in his ancestry, he expressed an interest in playing for Ireland at a time when he was enjoying a rich vein of form with Brighton. It fell to FAI president Dr Brendan Menton to unravel the mystery of his Irish background and qualify him for a vital World Cup tie against France in Paris on October 28, 1980.

Five days before the game, the Department of Foreign Affairs informed Menton that if the necessary documents were not with them the following day, Robinson would be out of the game. "In order to qualify him I had to get his mother an Irish passport," Menton recalled, "and this involved searching through registries of births, deaths and marriages going back to his great-grandmother, who was a West End beauty in the 1860s."