Thomas Robert: Airdrieonians retreat to escape the shadow of Father Laurent

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Thomas Robert (right), says he can’t imagine having a better father than former France and Newcastle winger Laurent

Thomas Robert says “jealousy” of him being the son of a famous international drove him to leave the French top flight and join third-tier Scottish club Airdrieonians.

Like Laurent Robert, who played nine times for France, his son rose through the youth ranks with Montpellier.

“Even in football schools I’ve always been Robert, I wasn’t Thomas,” the 20-year-old winger told BBC Scotland.

He thinks that is part of the reason why he has never had a first-team game in his homeland.

Now Robert has come to Scotland to escape the shadow of the former Newcastle United, Paris St-Germain, Portsmouth and Derby County winger and prove he can ‘play men’s football’.

A likely regular starting spot was a major reason for choosing Scottish League One despite the offer of a contract extension and interest from other clubs in Ligue 1 and the German Bundesliga. There were also speculative media reports linking him to Celtic, Rangers and Newcastle.

Indeed, Airdrieonians director of football Stuart Millar claimed at the time his one-year contract was signed that Robert “could have signed for any club in Europe.”

“These things that I read in the news about Newcastle and the German teams, I didn’t really want to know if they were true or not,” said Robert. “It was my agent, Mark McKay, who handled this. I just wanted to be on the first team – not on the bench or the second team – and Airdrie gave me that opportunity.

“Since I was little until now I have had problems with my name in France, because a lot of people were jealous in the team and my dream has always been to play in England. It’s not England, but it’s close. “

Robert was a regular starter from the Montpellier reserve last season, but they were relegated from the National Championship 2, France’s fourth tier.

“I trained every day with the Montpellier first team and I had my record with them, but every weekend the manager would tell me to go with the second team to help them,” he said.

“I don’t know why I was unlucky, because the whole first team wanted me to play with them because they saw in training that I was above the other players in the second team.

“It was very hard because I had a lot of pressure on me. Even if I scored three or four goals, they would identify what I did wrong. In France, when your father is a star footballer, they expect perfection. field. ”

‘I can’t imagine having a better father’

English was Thomas Robert’s mother tongue while Father Laurent (left) played for Newcastle

Robert left the family home for the last year of his contract to prepare for a move from France, but his father remains a major influence.

“After every game we watch the video and say what’s good and what isn’t and he suggests what I need to do more on the pitch,” he reveals.

“We train a lot together. I cannot imagine having a better father for a footballer because he is a very good coach. “

His father had transferred from PSG to start a five-year spell with Newcastle shortly after the birth of his son and young Robert has long been keen to experience the intensity and physicality of British football for himself.

“For me it’s the toughest football in the world here and there are also the best players in the world,” he said.

“Before signing for Airdrie I didn’t know much about Scottish football other than Celtic and Rangers but after signing I watched a lot of Airdrie games on video and I think I made a good choice.

“It was a good level in France, but what I saw in training with Airdrie, the football is harder here. “

Illness leading up to last week’s Scottish League Cup opening loss at home to Alloa Athletic meant Robert had to settle for being an unused substitute, but he says he “couldn’t be more happy ”after moving to Glasgow with his girlfriend Noemie before. Possible starts on Tuesday at Stenhousemuir.

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