Andy Robertson‘s journey to Liverpool was far from straightforward, but neither was his integration into the side and it wasn’t until five months after his arrival that he felt he belonged “on this stage.”
The Reds landed the Scot for a bargain fee of £8 million in the summer of 2017 and while he is currently an immovable force at left-back, a consistent run in Jurgen Klopp‘s side did not arrive until injury came the way of Alberto Moreno in the December.
From then on, he has not looked back having played in two European Cup finals, with a winners’ medal to his name in addition to a Super Cup, Club World Cup and soon to be Premier League title.
For many, he was viewed as an underwhelming addition and questions were raised over his suitability and in the early days of his time at Anfield, Robertson was similarly still trying to find his feet.
Speaking on That Peter Crouch Podcast, the 26-year-old opened up about throwing up on his first day of lactate tests to being “gutted” that Klopp would later call him ‘Mr Sick Boy’.
A memorable first impression. But like many of Klopp’s signings, the transition period was one which took time and the Scot first had to adjust his mindset before finding his groove and earning the feeling of acceptance from himself, his teammates and the manager.
“I took me time [to get in the team]. My biggest thing was in pre-season when we had 11v11 I still saw them as opponents, I didn’t see them as my teammates for whatever reason,” Robertson explained.
“I struggled to get my head around it. That was maybe the first week or two until I got my first game in Germany and so I was learning how the manager wants me to play but obviously when the season starts he’s got trophies to win and a team to build.
“He can’t be tip-toeing me through step by step. Obviously our game is all about high press and winning the ball back but I was struggling making the final step.
“But once I started to get that and it started to click, I believed I wasn’t far off then. People do sink [at Liverpool] if they maybe cannot cut it.
“I think because I have come from lower leagues [I didn’t sink] and I don’t see it as much as people who have played at the highest level.
“When I did it, I got accepted off the English lads straight away. My first box or rondo or whatever you want to call it, Hendo told me to ‘f*** off’ as soon as I went in because I stepped in and it was meant to be the two youngest players.
“So I stepped in, he didn’t know I was 22, he thought I was 28! So he told me to ‘f*** off’! So that was a nice start that the skipper was on my side.
“We had a big Christmas party at Melwood and it was after the game at Bournemouth away and I remember the gaffer came up to me and he said, ‘I don’t want to talk football with you but you were f***ing excellent today’.
“That was probably my fourth or fifth game after I’d come into the first team and that’s when I thought, ‘you know what, I am a Liverpool player and I belong on this stage’.
“It just gave me the confidence to go over that Christmas period and really put in good performances and I just kept on from there really.”
And kept on going he did. Robertson has since played a total of 119 games for the club in all competitions and has made himself an invaluable member of the side, both in defence and as a creative attacking outlet.
But it is his relentless spirit and tenacity which has endeared him to Liverpool fans, not to mention his snide behaviour – of which the game’s greatest ever player in Lionel Messi was subject to but it is an act Robertson does regret.
“When you test yourself against the best you want to try and come out well, and he is the best player that’s ever played in my opinion. Being directly up against him was as tough as it is,” Robertson added on facing up to Messi.
“When you come up against him you always think ‘it’s ok, we’re professional footballers, we can [handle this].’
“But I think he knocked it by two of our midfielders early on in the Nou Camp, and he was running directly at me and I was like ‘oh right, this guy’s serious, f***ing hell! He’s coming at me now!
“[And at Anfield] Me and Fabinho were both tracking him back, and we both ended up on the ground, and… yeah I just ruffled his hair a wee bit.
“He wasn’t too happy, but it’s something I wouldn’t do again that’s for sure! It’s a bit disrespectful to the best player that’s ever played this game.
“He was on the ground and I was on the ground, and I do regret it. But it’s something that everyone relates to me now, which isn’t the best!”