ISL 2018-19: Of laughing at trolls, sustained hardwork, taking falls on the chin - The Robin Singh story
- Iain Hume's influence, the frustration of his 2015 injury, and the need to laugh at the trolls, 'Lord Robin' opens up on an array of topics
"I'm a happy guy, so if someone's putting something on social media, calling me The Lord or whatever, I look at it, laugh at it, and move on," says FC Pune City's Robin Singh, who is no stranger to being used as the butt of all jokes on social media.
The big striker, who has been an integral part of Pune City's late-season resurgence under, first, Pradhyum Reddy and then Phil Brown, said, in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, there was no added pressure on his shoulders in the first part of the season, apart from just the team's woes.
"The team wasn't doing well, and that was our only concern. I have kept working hard, and always believed that the goals will come. The only pressure was to help the team get our results back on track, my goals were secondary."
Robin, however, didn't shy away from the fact that he will be judged for the goals he scores, and he says that is what any striker is always going to be judged by, so why should he be judged any differently?
"I want to score goals, it's what gives me the most happiness. When I score, I help my team, so of course I want to score more," he says.
Throughout the chat, Robin always stressed on the perils of taking things for granted. He took the example of Pune's time under the stewardship of Pradhyum Reddy to explain that not once was he guaranteed anything, or had any advantage, because of his previous experience of having worked with Reddy, at Bengaluru FC.
"My relationship with Pradhyum helped, yes. It helped because he knows what I can offer to them. The advantages stop there. Not for one moment did I believe I'd have to work any less just because Pradhyum was the head coach," Robin said.
So, have things changed with Phil Brown at the helm? Pune have played a similar system on the pitch to what Reddy used, but Robin says it would be naive to expect two coaches to be exactly the same.
"Obviously, Phil has brought in his own methods, his own drills, but in the end, it's about the results. We've lost one game out of the last seven. We'll take that every day of the week."
Robin also said the squad was raring to finish the season on a high, as the Stallions face their Maharashtra rivals Mumbai City FC on the 2nd of March.
The Delhi man also said that he was thrilled to be playing with Iain Hume. The Canadian has come into this Pune side, and has, almost magically, seen an upturn in results. Robin does not believe it is a coincidence. "Humey is such a big boost to everybody. He's an absolute ISL legend, and he's a huge influence on and off the pitch. We've been talking about playing with each other for two years now, and I'm glad I have the opportunity now," he says.
Robin also shed some light on how his partnership with Hume works. "The basics remain the same always, work hard, close down, make runs," he says, before adding that the Canadian demands a high standard from anyone playing alongside him.
"He's a worker, he never stops, and if you're playing with him, you have to be like him. I love playing with Humey, because he makes such a big difference when he's on the pitch," says Robin.
Has it been difficult, then, to adapt to this new right-wing role that he's played for much of this season? Not according to Robin, who himself was a left-back at the beginning of his career. Did that play a part in making his job as a winger easier, then?
"I don't know how much it's helped, but it's something that has definitely been there in my instinct. Sometimes when I've found myself on the flank, my instincts have taken over," he says.
Addressing the elephant in the room, then. Does he regret not making the flight to the UAE to play in the AFC Asian Cup 2019?
"Of course. I want to play every possible game I can for my country. I want to win games of Football for my country. I believe I can do it, but completely respect Stephen Constantine's call that I wasn't among the best options he had," Robin says.
The 28-year-old also said that he hoped the new manager of the National Team would give him a chance, and sees him as a part of his plans, going forward.
"It's only natural. In any field of life, you want to do well at the highest level. For me, the highest level is to play for my country and score goals for my country."
Robin believes the injury he suffered at the end of ISL 2015 came at the wrong time. "I was playing my best football, and it hurt to be missing games at the time. It pricked that I knew I could make a difference on the pitch, but my body just wouldn't let me get on the pitch. It was a frustrating period in my life."
So, how does he plan to barge the door, and get back to national reckoning, for the first time since the Tri-Nation series in August 2017?
"Nothing special. Keep working hard, keep training honestly, and hopefully I can score a lot of goals. I see no reason why I can't come back."
And Robin Singh wants to be back in the National Team reckoning, not least to experience the love of the growing Indian Football fan movement. "I watch these different fan groups, I love them. Obviously, there's banter all the time between me and the Bangalore fans, but it's so good that the culture is going everywhere, all across the nation."
Will those masses be singing the name of Robin Singh in the near future, then? The striker certainly thinks he can get them to do it.Published 28 Feb 2019, 20:08 IST