Robinson plays strong mind game to feed confidence

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The Independent Football

The official separation of Seaman from the most infamous tail of hair ever to grace the collar of an England No 1 shirt took place on ITV's This Morning in aid of the Bobby Moore fund for Cancer Research UK. It was a moment for Robinson, a long-term devotee of the more orthodox cropped hairstyle, to reflect on a World Cup qualifying campaign that has seen him take over from David James as first-choice England keeper.

Prepared only to concede that Seaman's new haircut looked "very nice", the Tottenham goalkeeper said that he had been touched by the reception he had been afforded by rival supporters at away grounds this season.

Robinson has endured some criticism of late for the punch at White Hart Lane last month that fell to Robert Pires' feet for Arsenal's equaliser in the north London derby last month.

The goalkeeper said: "The away fans have been brilliant to me wherever I've gone, Portsmouth fans especially at the start of the season, they've got a big England following and it's always good to go there, but quite a few of the grounds have been quite receptive. I've been really pleased.

"You have to be very mentally strong. You are there to be shot at and that's part of the game you just have to accept. Nobody means to [make mistakes], but you expect the criticism that will follow. You have to be a strong person and, maybe to become the England No 1, you have to be harder on yourself."

He said that he had avoided contemplating the fate of Seaman who, at fault for Artim Sakiri's goal in Macedonia's 2-2 draw with England in October 2002, was never given the opportunity to choose his time to step down. Robinson was given his chance after James made a mistake for Andreas Ivanschitz's goal in the first World Cup qualifier last September.

Robinson, who played in the remaining nine qualifying matches, said: "If you go into games worried - 'What'll happen if I do this or that' - you'll be finished before you've started. Every game's got to be positive and I'm confident in my own ability. I know that I'm good enough to cope with it."