Robson owes debt to Dunga

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The Independent Online
Following his spectacular coup in signing the Brazilian, Juninho, the Middlesbrough manger, Bryan Robson has urged his fellow British managers to follow his lead and look to South America for new talent.

"Sometimes we underestimate ourselves in this country," he said. "My credo is that if you fancy a top player in the world, why not go out and get him? You never know.

"In the past the top Brazilians, with the sort of money they've wanted, have chosen Spain and Italy, where there's a lot of money and the league was probably classed as better than the British leagues.

"But now the Premier League, with all the commercial money coming in, is catching up - if not overtaking - the Spanish and we're getting very close to Serie A. We can compete with them and start bringing more of the top players in."

Juninho, the 22-year-old midfielder who masterminded England's defeat at Wembley last summer, was always Robson's prime target. "We were a step ahead by going out there," he said. "Once I got across the table, the stumbling block was persuading them to sell. I never had a problem getting Juninho to come to Middlesbrough," Robson said.

"Dunga [the Brazilian captain] helped me sell the idea of coming to England to him - Juninho listens to him a lot."

"When I went into management I thought I would definitely look at Brazilians. When people talk about the best players in the world, they're almost all Brazilian, so I studied them a lot over the last year," Robson said. "We talk about the skills they have but they are tough, too."

Liverpool's Jason McAteer, looks set to start in place of John Sheridan, who yesterday pulled out of the Republic of Ireland squad to face Latvia tomorrow in their European Championship qualifier in Dublin.

Similarly, Northern Ireland have lost the services of the Southampton midfielder, Jim Magilton, who withdrew with a leg injury shortly before the squad left for their tie, in the same group, with Liechtenstein. West Ham's Keith Rowland has been called up as a replacement.

John Robertson, the Hearts striker who has not started in any of Scotland's nine European Championship qualifying games, will do so in tomorrow's friendly in Sweden.