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- Western Sydney Wanderers
- Adelaide United
- Jeonnam Dragons
- Adelaide City
For almost 15 years football consumed my life. In the early years it was everything to me. I was dedicated to getting absolutely everything from my career and pushed myself no matter how much it hurt. I have had to show my fair share of resilience and have had more than one comeback. Football was my sole focus and a bad training session or game could send me into a funk for hours if not days.
The biggest lesson of my life was the hardest to learn and an experience I wouldn't wish upon anyone. It taught me that family is the most important thing in life and that as much as I loved my profession, it was only a game. I have gained strength by sharing my story and helping others. It can be so difficult for men to speak out about their problems and I hope that by baring my soul more men can feel safe and seek help. Ultimately there has been big steps forward in the mental health space but there is still a lot of work to be done.
A tale of two losses:
One loss on a football pitch in front of 62,000 people. Fans screaming. Live on television. One people will criticise me for. One where people will call me names. One where I will doubt myself but one I will get over.
Slogging away for 4 months during preseason wasn't easy but there was an incentive at the end of all the hard work and sacrifice. A round one derby against our crosstown rivals Sydney FC. The match had been built up for weeks if not months. A record non finals crowd would be in attendance for my debut for my new club the Western Sydney Wanderers. I was so full of hope. The night would be a disaster. A 4-0 loss was not the way I wanted to introduce myself to the new fans!
The other no one will witness. In a hospital room in a foreign country. Quiet and still. My wife, my daughter and I. One that will teach me many lessons. One that will shape me for the rest of my life.
My wife Nel, 24 weeks pregnant at the time. Went into premature labour in Malaysia. We had no family or friends immediately on hand to lend support. We felt all alone through the most difficult experiences of our lives. Early the next morning on March 15, 2016 our beautiful daughter was born. She passed away peacefully in our arms but we feel lucky to have had that time with her. She was with me for less than an hour but taught me lessons to last a life time.
As I sat at home in Gwangyang, South Korea on a Sunday night playing playstation I could never have imagined what was about to happen. My phone rang, It was the team manager of the Australian national team, the Socceroos. 48 hours later I was about to make my starting debut. I can't believe what happened next.
Only getting the call at the last minute due to the fact there was a few injuries during the training camp. I arrived with just one training session before the match. The fact the game was to be played only a few hours away from where I lived no doubt helped. I fully expected to sit on the bench as a substitute or in the grandstand as an emergency. But there is a reason why you are told to always be ready. In the last training session another player in my position when down injured and I would be thrown straight into the starting 11. The speed at which the game is played at the top level means much of the game is a blur. There is one thing I can remember clearly though, Scoring the winning goal in the last minute of the match. I wasn't even meant to be there but I'm glad I was!
Other interesting facts
- Born in Blackburn, England
- Captained Western Sydney Wanderers
- Fractured right hip 3 times
- Worked in a factory before turning professional
- Lived in South Korea for 4 years
- English Premier League TV host in Malaysia
- Playing and scoring for Socceroos
- Malaysian Cup winner
- Asian champions league Finalist
- Playing abroad for 7 years in Asia
- A-League: Adelaide United (6 years)
- Western Sydney Wanderers (1.5 years)
- Korean K-league: Jeonnam Dragons (4 years)
- MSL: Selangor FA (1.5 years)
- Perak FA (6 months)
Hear Robbie tell his story on PickStar's Off-Field podcast:
PlayersVoice: 'The caravan kid who made it big' - watch the video
View a Short Snippet of Robbie's Story here:
- South Australia
- South Australia
- Birthday party appearance
- Attend an event
- Record a video message
- Deliver a speech
- Team announcement (captain, awards etc.)
- Message for specific person
- Club or event promotion
- Video Q&A
- Guest speaking
- Product launch