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FOOTBALL

Spain pays tribute to Michael Robinson, hero of football commentary

Liverpool's former Republic of Ireland striker Michael Robinson, who became a well-known commentator in Spain, has died aged 61, his family announced on Tuesday, prompting an outpouring of tributes.

Spain pays tribute to Michael Robinson, hero of football commentary
The sports commentator passed away at his home in Marbella.Photo: @MichaelRobinson/Twitter

Robinson, who settled in Spain after his playing career and had an award-winning media career, succumbed to cancer that was first diagnosed in 2018. He passed away at his home in Marbella.

“With tremendous sadness we inform you of Michael's death,” his family announced on Twitter.

“It leaves us with a great emptiness, but also countless memories, full of the same love that you have shown him.

“We will be eternally grateful to you for making this man SO HAPPY, he never walked alone. Thank you.”

After spells with Preston North End and Manchester City Robinson featured in the 1983 FA Cup final for Brighton, before moving to Anfield.   

He was part of the Liverpool squad that captured the league, League Cup and European Cup treble in 1984.

“We're deeply saddened by the passing of former player Michael Robinson, aged 61,” Liverpool tweeted.   

“The thoughts of everybody at Liverpool Football Club are with Michael's family and friends at this sad time. Rest in peace, Michael.”   

After Liverpool, Robinson joined Queens Park Rangers, before ending his career with Spanish side Osasuna.

He retired in 1989 but remained in Spain, mastering the Spanish language and becoming one of the country's most distinguished football pundits.    

According to Spanish daily El Pais, Robinson “revolutionised the way football was analysed”.    

Barcelona said in a statement he was “a person who loved football and who knew how to explain it with knowledge and ingenuity”.    

Real Madrid also expressed their “deep condolences” for a player they described as “a legend”.

“After his retirement from soccer, he dedicated his professional life to sports journalism, where his work on television, radio and in the written press stood out, earning the affection of all soccer and sports fans in general,” the club added.

Liverpool's 2005 Champions League winner Luis Garcia tweeted: “R.I.P Michael Robinson. The Liverpool legend that got in all the Spanish homes with his fantastic commentaries every Weekend !! #YNWA.”

One of Robinson's fans was Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.  

 

“He was with us on thousands of afternoons of football, recounting incredible anecdotes, and showing us a way of life beyond football,” said Sanchez.

“Thank you Michael Robinson. We will miss you. You'll never walk alone.”    

In a sign of the mark he had made on Spanish society, the Madrid Municipal Police tweeted their own tribute.

“We join in the condolences to the family, friends and all those whom he leaves bereft of his talent. A sporting, journalistic and human reference. Rest in peace,” the capital's police force said.

Retired Spanish Formula One driver Pedro de la Rosa said: “I will never forget how much he liked to talk about F1, mesmerising you with his stories. RIP.”

The Football Association of Ireland in its tribute to Leicester-born Robinson said: “The FAI is saddened to learn of the death of former Ireland international Michael Robinson. Michael played 24 games at senior level, scoring four goals during the 1980s. May he rest in peace.”

James Rhodes, the British pianist and resident of Madrid who has become another famous guiri in Spain tweeted his own tribute: 

 

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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