Football

An Ode To Laurent Robert - The Art Of Smashing The Football

An Ode To Laurent Robert - The Art Of Smashing The Football

Certain footballers don't dribble with the ball, they delicately stroke it to their whim with a velvet touch.

Some footballers don't kick the ball, they caress it with ease to send it to the destination of choice.

Laurent Robert wasn't one of those footballers.

That's not to say the man from the isle of Reunion hadn't got any guile. This mad goal against Fulham exemplifies that, with Robert contorting his body in order to get a heel on the ball and past Edwin van der Sar.

That goal against Fulham was the exception to Robert's Rule: that is, the art of scoring a goal by spanking that ball as hard as humanly possible.

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The sheer volume of YouTube compilations that bear Robert's name show his true popularity amongst the footballing fraternity. This one, titled 'When Laurent Robert hit the ball, it stayed hit' is the absolute embodiment of Robert's game.

In 240p glory, Robert smashes home goals against the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal and a mesmerising volley against Spurs.

Looking at the goal against Spurs again, you can see Robert stretching to reach the ball, yet still mustering enough power to leave the net billowing and Kasey Keller on the flat of his back.

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The cult of Robert is easy to fall in love with. The goals, the long-sleeves, the Gallic ease which buffered every wonder goal. But, for managers and fellow players, Robert was a tough character to curtail.

After his first season at St James's Park, Robert nearly quit Newcastle due to being unhappy at the signings made by Sir Bobby Robson. That season, Newcastle ended up finishing third. The beginning of the end of Robert's Newcastle career came when Robson was unceremoniously sacked at the beginning of the 2004-05 season. Robert just this year admitted that Robson's sacking was the end of his Newcastle career.

Robert ended up clashing with Robson's replacement Graene Souness, publicly criticising the Scot, as well as the Newcastle squad. That outburst led to the winger moving to Portsmouth on loan for one season, with the option to add two years to his stay at Fratton Park. The option was put in place to protect both Newcastle and Portsmouth, just in case Robert let his mouth run riot like it had at the expense of Souness.

Robert let his feet do the talking at Fratton Park, but not in the way you'd anticipate. Robert refused to take his place on the bench for Portsmouth in a 4-1 win against Sunderland, instead walking out of the stadium. The winger fell out with manager Alain Perrin, but was granted salvation when Harry Redknapp returned to save the south coast club from relegation, playing in a few matches before being booted out the door in January.

Then, Robert embarked on a tour of the world, taking in stops at Benfica, Levante, Toronto, and Larissa. He even returned to the Premier League, making four appearances for the worst Premier League side in history, Derby County, during their abysmal 2008-09 season.

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But, the journeyman Laurent Robert isn't the one we remember. Laurent Robert is etched into our collective memory as a talismanic winger, decked in black and white stripes, with an absolute cannon of a shot.

In the 'GOAL!' movies, it's not Santiago Munez contorting his body against Fulham, or rocketing a free-kick in to the roof of the net against Liverpool, it's Laurent Robert.

So, here's to you, Laurent Robert, you're the absolute personification of a 'thunderbastard'. Even Olivier Bernard would agree, if he's not still concussed.

 

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Sean Meehan

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