Paul Robinson suddenly has much to look forward to – not least today's World Cup draw and the chance of a Wembley final. After the maelstrom of emotions he experienced before Blackburn finally saw off Chelsea in the Carling Cup quarter-final, the England goalkeeper could also look back with quiet satisfaction and self-analysis.
Robinson saved two penalties in the shoot-out to earn Blackburn a semi-final double-header next month against Aston Villa, who they also visit in the FA Cup. Given England's poor record when it comes to settling games on spot-kicks, the former Leeds and Tottenham man was understandably pleased that one of those he frustrated was a German, Michael Ballack.
"That was nice, though I'm pleased to save them from whoever," he said, going on to joke that it was as well that Sam Allardyce was at home convalescing after heart surgery. "It would have been a good test after his operation to make sure it was all working."
The 30-year-old's heroics were in stark contrast with his mistake which allowed Chelsea – under-strength and down to 10 men – to make it 3-3 and force a shoot-out in the dying seconds of extra time. "I should have done a lot better with their third goal, but fortunately for me I was able to clear my head. It was such a crazy five minutes; the highs and lows of football. You couldn't experience two more contrasting emotions in such a short time. Only football can give you that. I had to get myself out of the disappointing place I found myself in and focus on the job in hand. It was hard but it's strange for a keeper to be in a situation where he can make amends."
Robinson believes he copes with setbacks better than as a young player who sampled the extremes of Champions' League success and relegation with Leeds. "I'm a more rounded person now. I'm more mature and can bounce back. My form this season has been steady – that was probably the first mistake I've made all year."
As for Villa, who he almost joined during David O'Leary's reign, he said: "We're going to see a lot of them. We'll be going backwards and forwards to Villa Park early in January. We may as well take up residence in a hotel round there. But we've avoided the Manchester sides and it's a great chance to get to the final. I enjoy this competition – I've scored a goal in it, I've won it and now I've saved two penalties against Chelsea. It would be huge to get to Wembley." What could victory over the Premier League leaders do for Blackburn's season? "It gives us a huge lift. OK, it wasn't Chelsea's first team but it was still a strong team. Wins breed confidence."
Carlo Ancelotti, meanwhile, accepted he gambled by sending on three substitutes after half-time, only for Salomon Kalou to be injured.
The Chelsea manager is becoming accustomed to losing to Lancashire's lesser lights, having also fallen at Wigan, but took a pragmatic approach. "We had priorities this week with League games against Arsenal and Manchester City, though I felt we fielded a strong team. I took the risk at half-time because I thought it was best for us and I wanted to put young players on to give them experience. Yes, we ended up with 10 v 11, but that was the chance I took."Reuse content