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."
Menton succeeded, and Robinson duly made his debut in Paris, only to be denied a goal by a controversial decision by the referee, who deemed Kevin Moran had handled the ball he had knocked down with his head to Robinson. France were leading 1-0 at the time but were under pressure, so it was a vital intervention by the referee. A late second goal added to Ireland's misery.
The Robinson-Frank Stapleton partnership got off the mark in the next game at home against Cyprus, with Robinson being taken down for a penalty for Gerry Daly's opening goal, laying on a goal for Stapleton and volleying his own first international goal from a Stapleton cross in a 6-0 win.
With seven points from five games, qualification was within reach, but further refereeing incompetencies ruined that script. A Stapleton goal was controversially ruled out against Belgium and, with three minutes to go, an Eric Gerets dive was awarded a free kick which led to the winning goal.
After a 22-goal season with Brighton in 1980-81, Robinson showed fine form in his opening two internationals the following season, scoring in a 2-2 draw away to Holland, and notching the winner in a thrilling 3-2 home victory over France. Sadly, Ireland's tally of 10 points from a very difficult group wasn't enough as France pipped them on goal difference.
Three goals in seven appearances was an excellent start to Robinson's international career, but then the goals dried up - and he managed just one more in his final 17 caps. However, there were interesting times in his club career, starting with an FA Cup final in 1983, secured by the winner he scored in a 2-1 semi-final win over Sheffield Wednesday at Highbury.
In the final, they met and matched Manchester United. It was 2-2 towards the end of extra time when Robinson laid on a 'sitter' for Gordon Smith, who somehow managed to miss it - and United took advantage, winning the replay 4-0.
A big-money move to Liverpool followed and season 1983-84 saw him collecting League, League Cup and European Cup medals. However, he was moved on to QPR the following season, when his tally of two goals - one for Liverpool, one for QPR - emphasised his decline. His final full season in English football saw him help QPR reach the Milk Cup final, in which they were beaten 3-0 by an Oxford team that included Ray Houghton and John Aldridge, soon to replace him in the affections of new Irish manager Jack Charlton.
In January 1987, QPR transferred Robinson to Spanish club Osasuna for a fee of £200,000, twice the fee they had paid to Liverpool. Injury forced him to retire from football at the end of the 1988-89 season aged 31 after scoring 58 goals.
Robinson stayed on in Spain and learnt to speak the language fluently, albeit with a strong English accent, and began working as a football pundit. As his career developed it became known as "Acento Robinson", and he later hosted a radio show of that name. He quickly found himself in demand as a broadcaster and won major journalism awards for his work.
The Spanish public warmed to him, with his self-deprecating sense of humour, his soft tones and his perceptive analyses of the game.
He was a commentator at the 1990 World Cup, and his breakthrough came with El Dia Despues ("The Day After"), which ran on Canal+ from 1991 until 2005.
He went on to produce and present the award-winning series Informe Robinson ("Robinson Report"), in which guests responded well to his gentle probing. He also became a voice-over artist, dubbing films, including Shrek 2 and Shrek The Third. Away from football and television, he was dedicated to golf.
He reserved a special affection for Cadiz, bought a stake in the local club, FC Cadiz, and was named honorary son of the city in 2018.
He became a Spanish citizen in 1989. He is survived by his wife Chris, and children Liam and Aimee.