Robinson was made at Deepdale

Spanish TV football presenter Michael Robinson during his playing days
Spanish TV football presenter Michael Robinson during his playing days
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Michael Robinson’s words and sentences literally roll off the tongue.

For someone who was born in Leicester, grew up in Blackpool and made his first tentative steps in the world of professional football with Preston North End, the 55-year-old speaks English with an uncanny Spanish lilt.

Of course Robinson – who went on to enjoy spells at Manchester City, Brighton, Liverpool and Queens Park Rangers as well as representing Republic of Ireland at international level – has a very good reason for his Iberian peninsular pronunciation.

For the past 27 years he has been a resident of Spain, since moving there after being signed by Spanish outfit Osasuna in 1987.

Although injury curtailed his time with the Primera Liga Club after two years, Robinson loved the Spanish way of life so much that he decided to settle there.

After expertly picking up the language, he forged a career as a soccer pundit before progressing to presenting – he is now widely regarded as the face of Spanish football on television.

Despite his roots in England and his appearances for Republic of Ireland at international level, Robinson admits his allegiance is firmly with the country he now calls home.

Indeed, when we caught up over the phone for a chat about his life, you got the feeling that his answers to my questions were being computed into Spanish in his mind first before being relayed to me in English.

“Please, no way do I want to be disrespectful,” Robinson said.

“But my allegiance is here with Spain.

“I’ve lived here for 27 years in a nation whose people have allowed me to invade their living rooms on a weekly basis. I live for the Spanish people. What makes them happy – makes me happy.

“I know how much the people of Spain cherish their football and I’ve lived here 27 wonderful years here and my gratitude is to the people of Spain.”

While Robinson is perhaps Spain’s favourite adopted son, he will, however, always have a debt of gratitude to his first professional club for the way in which they helped build his character – both as a player and a man.

“I have fantastic memories of my time at Preston,” he said.

“It was a very romantic experience for me.

“To have learned my football at North End – the manager at the time was Sir Bobby Charlton so to learn my football from people like him and Nobby Stiles was just incredible.

“I have so many wonderful memories of my time at the club – it’s part of my heritage.

“I actually saw them play against Rotherham in the play-offs.

“They did not play particularly well but I love to see them do well. It’s the club where I learned my trade.

“I was from Blackpool, my mother and father moved to the area when they bought a boarding house in Blackpool.

“One day there was a knock on the door and stood there outside my front door were Jimmy Scott –the chief Preston scout – and Bobby Charlton. I couldn’t believe it.

“They didn’t ask to see me, they asked to see my father. It was totally out of the blue.

“At the time I hadn’t really decided what I was going to do. I had decided I was going to carry on studying at Lytham and St Annes College.

“But then this knock on the door came from Sir Bobby asking my father if I could join as an apprentice at North End.

“If someone like Bobby Charlton rated me highly enough to come calling then I thought I’ve got a chance of playing football for a living.”

Robinson made his North End debut against Cardiff City at Ninian Park and went on to help the club achieve promotion from the old Third Division in 1978

He said: “One of my favourite memories at North End was when we got promoted to the Second Division and then the season after we nearly won promotion to the old First Division.

“There were great times for me playing with some great players like Mike Elwiss, Alex Bruce,Mick Baxter God rest his soul.

“They were exciting times and our manager Nobby Stiles had so much faith in us.

“I am most indebted to him and Alan Kelly, who was on the coaching staff. They just had blind faith in me.

“I so wanted to be a professional but I was one of those shy lads and there were times when I didn’t think I would be cut out for it.

“Harry Catterick was the manager after Bobby Charlton but he did not think too much about me.

“It was Alan Kelly who was the one who really believed in me.

“I remember one day Alan came up to me and said, ‘From this moment you are going to dedicate yourself into being the greatest centre-forward in the world’.

“I thought he was winding me up but Alan just kept saying to me, ‘I am going to help you in every way possible to be a great player – you just need to believe and have confidence in yourself’.

“Alan’s reasoning was that I should aim that high and even if I didn’t quite reach those heights, I will still have done brilliantly in my career.

“If it had not been for Alan I don’t think I would have made it as footballer.”