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Exclusive: Teenage hotshot Robinson on rise to senior setup
Part one of in-depth interview with Callum Robinson.
16th Apr 2014
Exclusive: Teenage hotshot Robinson on rise to senior setup


Harrison

Callum Robinson has vowed to carry on playing with the same infectious enthusiasm that propelled him to the cusp of Villa's first team.

An impressive run of form for the club's U21 side has seen Robinson earn a promotion to the senior setup in recent weeks.

The 19-year-old hotshot was on the bench for Barclays Premier League games against Chelsea, Stoke, Manchester United and Fulham.

His upward trajectory began back in September when Paul Lambert handed him his first team debut as a substitute in the Capital One Cup clash against Tottenham.

Since then, Robinson has continued to shine at U21 level with 11 goals in 17 appearances.

Both Lambert and development coach Gordon Cowans have praised the England U19 international's goalscoring exploits and his exemplary attitude.

While Robinson knows he must bide his time for a chance on the top-flight stage, he has been thrilled with the opportunities that have come his way this term.

"I just love playing," said the Northampton-born attacker.

"I've been at this club since I was eight but even before then I've just always loved playing and watching football as much as I can to try and improve.

"People say that I'm always smiling. It may have helped me get there but it is still down to your ability. But I am a happy person.

"For the manager to see me and give me an opportunity to be on the bench, that's great.

"He gave me my debut back in September so that was a good feeling to know he has got faith in me. I was still 18 at the time.

"But if I can keep doing what I've been doing, I know the manager here will give me a chance in the future."

Despite developing a thirst for scoring goals at an early age with local club Soccer Stars, Robinson initially entered Villa's academy as a right-back.

During his progression through the age groups, he developed into a winger before U18s coach Tony McAndrew began utilising him as a striker.

It is a role the teenager relished in last season's NextGen Series when he helped Villa become European champions at youth level.

Robinson

But things haven't always been plain sailing. At the age of 14, Robinson was hampered by injury problems and feared his claret and blue dream might be over.

It served as a wake-up call and fuelled his desire to be a success at Villa.

"When I first joined I was eight and I didn't realise the size of the step I was making," he explains.

"It actually hit me around the time I was in the U12s or U13s. I thought if I do well enough I can make it.

"But I had a bad season in the U14s. I had a lot of growing pains and I think I was close to getting released.

"There was a tournament called the Nike Cup where I got dropped. My dad was on to me and I knew I had to fix up.

"Luckily Villa had faith in me and gave me another year and a half. That is when I started kicking on a lot.

"I think I needed to be dropped to realise I wasn't doing well. Then I started doing well again and I got picked for England.

"Tony McAndrew helped massively because he gave me the opportunity in Youth Cups and stuff like that. That is when it hit me that I could do it and I got my scholarship."

The application Robinson showed to overcome those difficult days in the U14s has stuck with him.

Whether he finds himself warming up in front of 75,000 at Old Trafford or back playing with his peers in the U21s, the forward has vowed not let his positive attitude slide.

He has had positive conversations with Lambert about his development but knows there is still plenty of hard work to be done.

"That was a great experience to be on the bench at Old Trafford with 75,000 there," he said.

"But I would never act 'big-time' about it.

"The manager says I am progressing well for my age.

"There have been people calling for me to get in the first team starting and stuff like that.

"I know myself I am not ready to be starting. Obviously I'd love an opportunity to come on but that is down to him.

"I can't get too carried away because I am still only 19, but the manager has said I'm doing well and is happy with the way I'm training so that gives me a lot of confidence."

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