Robertson: 'Hope the success of Real Kashmir FC will bring a positive image to the state'

David Robertson was an integral part of perhaps the greatest Rangers FC team ever assembled. Robertson featured in six of the club’s record nine-in-a-row Scottish Premier Division (SPD) title run in the 1990s, and he also won three Scottish Cups and three League Cups during his time at Ibrox Stadium.

David Robertson is the coach of Real Kashmir FC – a largely unheralded team which is battling for a spot in the largely unheralded I-League.   -  Facebook/ Real Kashmir FC

David Robertson was an integral part of perhaps the greatest Rangers FC team ever assembled. Robertson featured in six of the club’s record nine-in-a-row Scottish Premier Division (SPD) title run in the 1990s, and he also won three Scottish Cups and three League Cups during his time at Ibrox Stadium.

Robertson is now a long way from home. He is the coach of Real Kashmir FC – a largely unheralded team which is battling for a spot in the largely unheralded I-League. Robertson has stepped into the unknown, and has enjoyed the challenge so far.

“Before coming here, I thought every place in India was hot, but there was snow the second day I arrived in Kashmir. It felt like I was still in Scotland,” Robertson said, after his side notched up a victory over Ozone FC in the Hero 2nd Division League (final round) here.

The Scotsman dismissed concerns about unrest in Kashmir Valley, stating that his experience has been nothing but positive. “I’ve heard about the conflicts and curfews, but I can walk the streets without facing any trouble. Every afternoon, I take two-hour walks through Srinagar, and the people have been welcoming and gracious. At times, our players have had trouble getting to the training ground, but this happens very rarely. I’ve lived in big cities like Phoenix (USA), where it can be dangerous. If you go to the wrong place in Phoenix, or even in Glasgow, you’ll have some trouble. I suppose it’s the same thing in Kashmir,” Robertson said.

His concerns are restricted to life on the football field. “Kashmiri players suffer from lack of exposure. I’m happy that our squad consists of many local boys. Before this I-League qualifying campaign, they didn’t have many opportunities to play at the national level. Kashmiri kids need something positive in their lives. When the boys come to practice, they play with real desire and heart. I’m hoping that the success of Real Kashmir FC will bring a positive image to the state,” Robertson stated.

In 1992, Robertson was part of the Rangers FC team which became the first British team to earn a spot in the Champions League group stage.

That season, ‘The Gers’ also clinched the domestic treble (League Cup, Scottish Cup and SPD). In all, the outfit went on a 44-match unbeaten streak, which earned them high praise as the golden generation.

Roberston drew similarities between that Rangers FC team and Real Kashmir FC. “Our Rangers side may not have had great individual talent, but we achieved great things through teamwork. I see the same traits in Real Kashmir FC,” he said.

One former team-mate of Robertson who exuded pure individual talent was Paul Gascoigne. The mercurial striker signed for Rangers FC in 1995, for a club record fee of £4.3 million. ‘Gazza’ has since fallen on hard times, his life blighted by alcoholism and mental issues. Robertson described Gascoigne as a generous man who was unfairly portrayed as a trouble-maker.

“I remember an incident at a gas station at Glasgow. I filled gas and went inside the office to make the payment. The man at the counter told me that Gazza had just been in, and that he had given him 100 pounds to buy sweets for his kids. That’s the type of guy Gazza is – an honest and wonderful man,” Robertson explained, “I feel very bad for him, because we were very good friends. We drifted apart once he started having his issues, which is something I deeply regret.”

The 49-year-old recently tried to make contact with his old mate, but to no avail. “When I was coaching in Arizona (USA), Gazza had come over for his de-addiction programme. I tried to meet him, but his guidance counsellor wouldn’t allow it. You know, all of us Rangers players attend reunions to celebrate the nine-in-a-row league title run. Hopefully one day, Gazza will be well enough to join us.”

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