Credit: Dundee Football Club
You retired in 2009. How are you enjoying retirement from professional football and how is life for you these days?
Life is good these days and I will not lie to you James it was very tough at the beginning when I retired because I retired early in my career and I felt that I had a whole lot more to do and achieve and I had ten operations in total on my body and to retire at 29 years old was pretty disappointing in all honesty because I started at 16 years of age as a professional footballer and it was never the case of through ability I was restricted through my body as opposed to being just too old to play.
Such a scenario hot my a lot and I had a lot of depression years after that and it was not after until I got into coaching that I was able to get my head around retirement and go back and say put that to bed you are never going to play the game at the the top level again and you will never have the adrenaline of the crowd, coaches, boys and the dressing room but can I now help and educate others to do so. I have never looked back since I started coaching to be honest.
You played two seasons for Burnley FC in England. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights and special memories?
Yes and my wife and I often talk about it. When I came to England from Australia Chris Waddle signed me in 1997 after I played in the World Youth Championships in Malaysia and my girlfriend who is now my with wife came across from Australia and we still say to this day that it was the best club to have started at. We brought into the ethos of Burnley FC as a town and we brought a house there and I go to know all the locals and I throughly enjoyed my time at Burnley FC.
Unfortunately at the end I would have loved Burnley FC to have been the only club that I played for and to have gone through the levels with them. But things off the pitch were not going the way I would have wanted to go because anybody that knows me or has seen my play knows that I give everything to the football team that I am playing for.
Chris Waddle and Glen Roeder loved it and I had a love hate relationship with Stan Ternent and that transpired on me saying to him if that is going to be the relationship we are going to have then it is best that I move on so I did and everybody at the football club was sad to see me go because I was still really good friends with the likes of Paul Weller, Andy Cooke, Glen Little and that was quite hard. But I have had great experiences at clubs all across the world at different football clubs to go with it.
You played two seasons for Dundee FC in Scotland. How do you look back on your time at the club and do you have any highlights or special memories?
Yes, Not many people know but my Dad Alex Robertson is Scottish and he was born and raised in Edinburgh and his first football club was Dundee FC and he got signed by the club and traveled through on a Sunday night and went into digs on the Sunday and left on the Friday and returned to Edinburgh after the game at the weekend and he and Gordon Strachan were in digs together at Dundee FC so my affiliation with the football club is that when I signed there everybody was like wow your Dad played for the club and now you have come from Australia and you are playing for the club.
With my heart I played for that football club for my Dad basically and I thought it I could go on and achieve good things with this football club my Dad would be proud of me because that was his very first professional club so when I played for that club we had lots of foreign players, we had a great fanbase and we played in Europe in the InterToto Cup and in the UEFA Cup too as well as Scottish Cup Finals.
I had a fantastic time at Dundee FC and I am still friends with a lot of the guys and the football club holds a place in my heart as opposed to just being a football club. I felt like I was part of the family and part of the woodwork as soon as I walked through the doors of the club.
You accrued a lot of experience at club level playing in different countries and being capped by your country. When you look back on your career could you say who were among the best players you played alongside?
Yes, I was fortunate enough to playing in Australia with Angelo Colombo and he was a superstar for AC Milan back in the day along with Franco Baresi and Paolo Maldini and my manager was Andrea Iccardi who with another AC Milan legend so I was 16 coming through and playing in the first team with these players. I went into the youth national teams of Australia and played with the likes of Hayden Fox who played for West Ham United and Portsmouth FC. Lucas Neil was our captain for a long time. Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka were also fantastic players.
I played with Ian Wright at Burnley FC and Claudio Cannigia and Fabrizio Ravenelli up in Dundee and even getting to play with a legend on Chris Waddle when he signed me. To be able to play alongside him and for him to teach me the ropes and teach me how to play English football because when I first came to England the pace of the game was just extravagant compared to Australia.
Gavin Rae who I also played with at Dundee FC is now my Brother in Law and Fabián Caballero also at Dundee FC was an excellent player and even my time at Stockport County playing with Rickie Lambert, Ashley Williams, Alfie Le Fondre, Aaron Willbraham and Warren Feeney. All these guys make up the friends that I have today and I still speak to them. I was also fortunate to captain a few clubs that I was at and people see me as a leader both on and off the pitch. I contributed a lot and overall all of these teammates I have mentioned are the ones that pop into my mind as fantastic teammates and they will always have a place in my heart.
I can imagine in your position as a midfielder that you come up against many difficult opponents through the years, could you say which opponents stood out for you in terms of talent and ability?
I was just coming through Marconi Stallions and we played against Jubilo Iwata and they had a plethora of players and my first game at professional level was against Dunga who was the Brazilian captain and not long before I played against him he was holding the World Cup aloft so I was thinking to myself how I am going to pitch myself against this guy and does this reflect my career going forward if I can handle the pace against him.
I also played against Michael Laudrup very early on in my career Bastio Elvasaro so to play against three players who had been at the top, top level so early on in my career that I knew after that I have got something here and I have definitely got the ability and mental strength to go on and be a player at the top level.
Not long after that I played against Esteban Cambiasso and Juan Riquelme at international level and that was a tough game and I always look at my midfield battles and Riquelme was just so beautiful on the ball and he had great balance and I like to think I had a good game that day. Going forward players that gave me a tough game were Ray Houghton and although he was older than me I just through wow this guy just keeps going with one and two touch and I could not really get near him.
I played against Ľubomír Moravčík at Celtic FC and although he was small in stature but I could not really get near him to use my physical attributes. He was just too good and too quick on the ball. I played against Paul Merson and I thought I would have him in the bag but it was just one touch football that really got to me and Paul in particular had a great eye for a pass. Playing again Japan and Shunsuke Nakamura was a lesson because they were unbelievably sharp. The players that were quick in the brain that would cause the problems and a lot of the players I mentioned were very bright and intelligent footballers.
Finally Mark you mentioned Chris Waddle when you look back on your career could you say who were the coaches and managers who meant a lot to do and played a key role in your development as a professional footballer?
Yes, To start with and to have Chris Waddle sign me he showed a lot of faith and paid a lot of money to Marconi Stallions to sign me and I was so disappointed that he only lasted a season because when you first come in and you sign a three year deal and the manager only last the season it does make things really tough and his coaching staff was Glen Roeder, Gordon Cowans and Chris Woods and if you look at that superstar coaching lineup that should stay at the football club and go on to have great careers as managers.
Chris Woods is the only one currently involved at West Ham United. Chris Waddle never coached after that Glen Roeder went on to have a bit part career. Chris Waddle for me was fantastic he was a player manager he treated me very well and he even went on to say many years later that I was a player he signed and that he loved working with me.
I thought that was a really nice touch and Sammy McIlroy signed me for Stockport County and me and Sammy just hit it off straight away he made me captain of the club and we have had a great relationship but again Sammy only lasted a season and I do not know If I was the bad omen. They are two managers that I held in high regard.