I’m a Tottenham icon who quit England just to get back at the manager

Joe Cole, Paul Robinson, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney of England during the teams training session at the FIFA World Cup Stadium
-Credit: (Image: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Former Tottenham talisman Paul Robinson retired from England duty just so he could get back at Fabio Capello.

Robinson - who represented the Three Lions on 41 occasions - saw his international prospects decline sharply after Capello took England's reins in 2007. The Italian was known for his rigid dietary rules, struggled with English and had a reputation for being distant with players - something Robinson experienced firsthand.

The ex-Spurs stopper - who made 175 appearances for the club - felt overlooked by Capello during what was the peak of his playing career. Robinson, 41, was at Blackburn Rovers and producing at a high level when he was left out of England's 2010 World Cup squad, hanging up his international gloves shortly after.

Reflecting on that period, Robinson shared with the Let's Be Having You! The 00s Football Podcast (via the Daily Express): "I'd been alright for Blackburn at that time under Big Sam [Sam Allardyce]. That kind of reignited my career going to Blackburn under him. He was one of the best man managers I had, so me and Fabio didn't see eye to eye anyway.

"It was no big surprise that he hadn't picked me. He was one of the big reasons I retired from international football. But I waited until he did pick me, just so I could get one back over on him. I waited until he picked me, then I retired."

The former Premier League star made a point by retiring immediately after being selected for a friendly against Hungary in August 2010. Robinson refused to be considered as a backup option and said at the time that he didn't see himself "as a number three or four keeper."

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His form for Blackburn was instrumental in the club's 10th-place league finish in the 2009/10 season, yet it wasn't enough to secure him a spot in England's World Cup squad. Instead, future Tottenham stopper Joe Hart, David James and Robert Green travelled to South Africa as Capello's keeper corps.

That decision drew criticism from not only Allardyce but also England great Gordon Banks. Banks made the point at the time that Blackburn's defensive issues weren't due to Robinson, who had been solid between the sticks.

Despite a commendable run of six consecutive clean sheets for his country, Robinson's last appearance for England was marred by defeat to Russia in October 2007. It wasn't long after that England failed to qualify for Euro 2008, which is still considered one of the country's greatest shames in the modern era.

Fabio Capello has had his say on Italy's shock failure to reach the 2022 World Cup. (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images for Lega Serie A)
Capello was a divisive figure throughout his England tenure -Credit:Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images for Lega Serie A

Following Capello's departure in 2012, Robinson stood firm on his decision not to return to the national team, despite some calls for his inclusion. However, he later expressed a willingness to consider playing under Roy Hodgson in the run-up to the 2014 World Cup.

The personal nature of his struggle against Capello was made even more evident by the manner of his retirement, though it came at a high cost. Capello's actions - or lack thereof - severed his ties with one of England's great talents at the time, who proved he was only too willing to make big calls of his own.