Defining Moments | Paul Robinson
MY DEBUT IN 1996
It’s probably a special occasion for all professional footballers, but mine was extra special because it was against Luton. I was only 17 at the time and our full-back Dominic Ludden got injured after two minutes. I remember Graham Taylor turned to me and said I was coming on and I hadn’t even done a proper warm-up.
The speed it happened was probably a good thing though because it didn’t give me a chance to be nervous. A few of the lads who I’d come through the youth system with were on the bench that day too and I remember them all buzzing that I was coming on.
As I said, it was a derby as well as my debut, so I tried to put myself about a bit and I think I did okay. The game ended 1-1 and the whole experience is something I’ll never forget.
PROMOTION TO THE FIRST DIVISION IN 1997/98
Another obvious one but something I’ll never forget. We won at Fulham to secure promotion and on the full-time whistle there was a mass pitch invasion from our travelling fans. I was still so young so had obviously never experienced anything like that.
As much as the game itself though, I remember getting back to Watford and it was like a sea of yellow. I think the whole town had come out to welcome us home! There were people everywhere, even in the fountain at the top of the high street.
As you can imagine, the celebrations went on long into the evening and it was a special night. I loved every minute of that season and that was a fantastic way to finish it off.
PROMOTION TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE IN 1998/99
The play-off final at Wembley obviously had to make the cut. This was a special day for me in more ways than one though, as immediately after the game I was told I’d made the England Under-21 squad too!
It had always been a dream of mine to play at Wembley, but I’d never expected it to happen so fast. We were a really tight group of lads and before the game it was surprisingly calm. I remember walking onto the pitch and just the pure noise in the stadium was mind-blowing.
The game itself is a bit of a blur but I’ll never forget the feeling at the final whistle. It was a mixture of joy, relief and pure exhaustion! Wembley looked like it was full of yellow shirts that day and to share that moment with so many Watford fans was extremely special.
I’d come through the ranks with the club so to help them back to the Premier League was a massive achievement for me and a proud day for my family. Mixed with the England call-up, it really was a perfect day and one I’ll never forget.