From playing to Alan Shearer on construction sites and going bankrupt. This is the story of Paul Robinson – The Athletic

“You are obsessed! You have to stop talking about me! Paul Robinson laughs and it feels good to hear him laugh again. Our whole conversation isn’t funny – there are dark times and hard times – but for a little while we’re teammates again and Paul is the same old idiot, the fearless piss and joking ass. The lines on our faces tell a different story. We are middle-aged men wallowing in the past.

In a walk-in closet, we share privacy. We are locked together in a way that is both routine and profound, and we come and go, going through each other’s lives. We work and compete with each other. Wait a minute, you’re the new kid, flexible and quick and brash. Next up, you’re the veteran, hooked by arthritic fingertips. We generate memories and we are temporary and everything is going at 100mph. Football can be very careless. And it passes in the blink of an eye.

A few weeks ago, during my other gig on BBC Match Of The Day, we talked about Everton’s 2-0 win over Brighton. Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored a penalty, but only after teammate Richarlison gave up the ball – reluctantly – and I referred to the one time something comparable happened to me, when Paul played the part by Richarlison.

“I don’t remember your exact answer, but the second word was ‘off’,” Paul, 42, now says.

It got me thinking, however.

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