Andy Robertson: Liverpool left-back on the cusp of Scottish football greatness in the Champions League

Of course you did. The Scotland captain’s rise from his Celtic sacking and Spiders’ spell to the top of the game is so widespread that it has become a symbol of Liverpool’s success. It’s sure to be mentioned again during TV and radio coverage when Jurgen Klopp’s side take on Real Madrid in Paris for the ultimate prize in European football.

But for all its clichéd iterations, Robertson’s rise is still very much worth mentioning.

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It’s far from over either.

Success in football has many standards; Defying adversity, making a career, personal distinctions and achievements – but the measure of silverware is a particularly telling marker.

A win over Real Madrid would take Liverpool to six European Cup and Champions League appearances – jointly second among the most successful sides in the competition behind their opponents’ record-breaking 13 sides. It would also place Scotland’s left-back in the top tier of decorated players in the country’s national game.

Scottish trophy winners are few and far between. Robertson is already one, but multiple winners are a treasured bunch he’s possibly a day away from.

Before him, only six Scottish footballers have played and won a European Cup final more than once, while another, John O’Hare, picked up his second medal as an unused substitute for Nottingham Forest.

Robertson helped Liverpool past Villarreal in the semi-finals to set up his shot at glory in Paris. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Scots also ran through two-time tournament winners from Nottingham Forest in that 1980s era when Kenny Burns, John McGovern and John Robertson clinched their two medals and there is already an Anfield Scots legacy. Graeme Souness, Kenny Dalglish and Alan Hansen all won three European Cups and guided the Reds through a period of continental dominance in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Klopp’s side are widely regarded as the best side on Merseyside since, revived with Scottish strength.

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Scottish star Billy Gilmour lifts the Champions League trophy with Chelsea.

It has been sporadic since then for individual Scots to be scattered through England squads – plus Paul Lambert at Borussia Dortmund – but Robertson can add his name to the short list beyond the one-off victories of Archie Gemmill, Gary Gillespie, Steve Nicol and Darren Fletcher over the weekend in Paris.

These two teams have met at this stage before, in 2018. They have also met in the same city in the final when Liverpool triumphed in 1981 – a success that builds on the Scottish foundation of Souness, Hansen and Dalglish.

Liverpool have won six Champions League trophies in the competition’s various incarnations as the European Cup and UCL. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Matching the accomplishments of such a quality squad would instantly place Robertson among Scotland’s greats – were it not for the fact that he was already captain of the national team and inducted into the Hall of Fame.

It is difficult at this time to see a rival for his position anywhere in world football, let alone those on those shores, past or present. Fast, direct and precise, these are qualities that could fit into any team – national or international – in the world.

He often does. The modern metric of FIFA computer game rating already identifies Robertson as the pre-eminent in his field for the youth and gaming community. An Ultimate Team ranking of 87 marks his coveted online trading card, beating the personal results of Barcelona’s Jordi Alba, French full-backs Lucas Digne and Theo Hernandez, and Marcos Acuna, Raphael Guerreiro and Luke Shaw. Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy, his opponent in Saturday’s final, is also clear.

The Madrid reign of Marcelo, the decorated Brazilian flag-bearer at attacking left-back, is waning at the age of 34 – albeit six years older than Robertson with four UCL titles and as many Club World Cups.

Scotland’s captain Andy Robertson. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The Glasgow-born defender is at the peak of his own powers at 28 on the hunt for his second win in any competition, whether that’s charging down the left wing to deliver crosses, deliver goals and score a few goals of his own , or leaning back hound attacker without possession with an unrelenting stamina that has played 118 games for club and country in the last two years. These included three appearances at Euro 2020 and an English Premier League win with Liverpool and this week numbers 119 and 120 will prove crucial to Robertson’s winning streak.

A World Cup play-off semi-final in Hampden against Ukraine on Wednesday night is followed by Real Madrid at the Stade de France – both games have been either rescheduled or postponed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, against whom he will lead Scotland on Wednesday night. Rather than playing in St Petersburg, where that final was set to be played, there is a quicker turnaround and journey to return to Glasgow for the crucial game that could decide Scotland’s World Cup fate and Robertson’s long-term legacy.

Last summer, Robertson became the first Scotland captain in almost a quarter of a century to lead the side in a major tournament. Help Steve Clarke beat Ukraine and then Wales to qualify for Qatar and he became the ninth Scotland captain of a World Cup squad – an accolade shared once again with Souness and other Scottish revered names such as Billy Bremner and Danny McGrain is shared. Neither of them won a European Cup, however – but Bremner lost the final in Paris in 1974 – and the opportunity presented to Robertson will be of historic football importance if Liverpool and Scotland succeed.

Two Champions League medals and a World Cup qualification would add another incredible chapter to Robertson’s remarkable rise, from his Celtic dismissal and resilience as an amateur to the top of European football with Liverpool and Scotland, establishing the success of Scottish footballers today measured at.

Andy Robertson of Liverpool lifts the Champions League trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League Final between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on June 1st, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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