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Robbo: Hornets baptism shaped me

Posted on: Sat 03 Nov 2007

PAUL Robinson makes his first playing return to former club Watford tomorrow (ko 3pm) claiming his daunting Vicarage Road debut shaped his career.

The Baggies left-back was handed a baptism of fire in 1996 by then-Hornets boss Graham Taylor when, at just 17, he made his professional debut as a second-minute substitute in a 1-1 draw with derby rivals Luton.

Robinson, who made more than 250 appearances for Watford, remembers how determined he was not to let his nerves get the better of him that day.

The no-nonsense defender took the bull by the horns - and hasn't looked back since.

"It was not a good game to come into when you're 17!" quipped the 28-year-old defender.

"It was a real baptism of fire.

"That's probably where I get my mentality from.

"Everyone thinks of me as some kind of hard man and, with a game like that, you have to grow up quickly.

"But it was a good challenge for me.

"I was very pumped up.

"I had two of my ex-youth team team-mates sat on the bench with me and they were looking nervous for me.

"That didn't help!

"That's where my career started and it made me the person I am now.

"I've obviously grown up more since.

"I've changed my game and have enjoyed every moment of it."

The ex-England Under-21 international is just hoping his father-in-law and Watford season-ticket holder, Colin, does not have the bragging rights tomorrow.

"Yes, I'm sure my father-in-law will be sat in the Watford end - but he'll have my West Brom shirt on," Robinson joked.

"He might be getting a few hotdogs and hamburgers thrown at him - probably from my son!

"At least he won't go hungry.

"I'll wind him up a bit before the game but not too much as I don't want him to have the last laugh."

Robinson wjoined Albion from Watford in October 2003 for an initial bargain fee of £250,000.

He has made a couple of incognito visits to watch his hometown club since but tomorrow will mark his first return as a player.

'Robbo' admits it will be an emotional day for him.

"Watford gave me my chance to play football," he added.

"I owe the Club for giving me that opportunity.

"I know the personnel has changed so it will be different.

"But there are a few people who are still there from my days and it'll be nice to catch up.

"I was born and bred in Watford.

"I always keep an eye on how they're doing but obviously I'd prefer West Brom to be above them.

"I went to see them in the play-offs the season before last against Crystal Palace.

"I covered myself up by wearing a hat!

"A few fans spotted me and shook my hand.

"It was a sad time when I left but my career has improved since.

"Even so, I owe Watford a lot for giving me that opportunity to move on.

"It'll be different playing back there. "It's a big day for me. It'll be emotional.

"But I'm looking forward to it.

"When you're going to a team that's top of the table, it's a great challenge to go there and enjoy the occasion even more.

"I don't know what reception I'll get but the main thing is trying to get all three points."

Paul Robinson

Albion will have to contend with Watford's in-form strike duo of Darius Henderson and Marlon King, who have smashed 15 goals between them, as they bid for a second league away win.

"We know we need to turn our away form around," said Robinson.

"The thing is we've been playing well but sloppy goals have cost us.

"It's not that we haven't been playing as a team.

"Individual mistakes have cost us goals - the sort we don't concede at home.

"Watford are scoring a lot of goals.

"They're strong and physical so we have to be ready."

PIC: MEMORY LANE...Robinson in Watford action

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