Michael Robinson, 2nd from right in the front row, with his Republic of Ireland teammates before the World Cup qualification game against France on Oct. 14, 1981. Robinson scored the third Irish goal in the 3-2 home win in Lansdowne Road in Dublin. The other players in the front row are, from left, Dave Langan, Liam Brady, Frank Stapleton, Chris Hughton and Mick Martin; back row, from left, are Kevin Moran, Seamus McDonagh, Mark Lawrenson, Ronnie Whelan and David O’Leary. INPHO/BILLY STICKLAND
The death occurred last week in Madrid of former Irish international Michael Robinson at age 61. The Leicester-born Robinson qualified to play for Ireland through the ancestry or “granny rule.” He started his career with Preston and also played for Manchester City, Brighton, Liverpool and QPR. He won the European Cup and League One title with Liverpool in 1984.
Robinson finished his playing career with Osasuna in Spain and when he retired in 1989, stayed in Spain where he became a popular sports presenter. The former striker had battled with malignant melanoma since December 2018, announcing on the radio then that doctors told him there was no cure.
Robinson scored four goals for Ireland in 24 games, but two in the 1982 World Cup qualification group stand out — the first in the 2-2 away game against the Netherlands on Sept. 9, 1981, and what turned out to be the winner in the 3-2 home game against France on Oct. 14 at Lansdowne Road.
Belgium topped the group, and Ireland were desperately unlucky not to have qualified directly for the finals in Spain, losing out on goal difference to France for the second spot. (France lost the World Cup semifinal in controversial circumstances to West Germany. Future Irish assistant manager Marco Tardelli scored for winners Italy in the final.)
-- Sean Creedon