Luke Robinson relishing chance to make Bermuda debut
Luke Robinson is relishing his Bermuda debut and opportunity to introduce himself to the nation after being called up to the men’s senior squad for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.
The versatile player, who can operate anywhere down the flank on either side of the field, is in line to be gain his first international cap after being included in Kyle Lightbourne’s squad ahead of facing Surinam at the Frank Essed Stadion in Paramaribo tonight, before heading to the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton four days later to play Cayman Islands.
After narrowly missing out on making the squad for the opening group B fixtures against Canada and Aruba, the 22-year-old is desperate to finally make his mark on the international stage.
“This is definitely a big moment for myself; it’s still hard to quite actually believe,” Robinson said. “I was in and around the national team before the previous games but I didn’t make the final squad. However, I must have done something right and, thankfully, now I have the chance to represent Bermuda.
“These will be huge games for us and definitely the biggest of my career so far, I just hope I can get the chance to show what I can do.”
Not only do the upcoming games represent an opportunity for Robinson to get his first taste of international football, but also the chance to reacquaint himself with his country of birth, having moved to England at the age of 7.
An unknown quantity to the majority of football fans on the island, Robinson developed his early game in college programmes on the South Coast in both Southampton and Brighton, before making a significant breakthrough last season with Staines Town in the Isthmian League South Central Division, helping the club to the top of the league before the campaign was declared null and void.
“Not many people here will know much about me and so I’m exited to show people what I can do,” Robinson added. “I was born here and most of my family still live in Bermuda. It’s funny because I’ve been back on island more in recent months than I have in years. It’s been great to be back and I really feel at home here.”
While aiming to make a name for himself in England, Robinson’s desire to represent Bermuda also grew; coinciding with the nation’s impressive and historic Concacaf Gold Cup campaign in 2019.
Determined to make a breakthrough into the national set-up, he reached out to a host of the senior men’s squad with recently retired former captain Danté Leverock playing a crucial role in aiding Robinson’s emergence, before the previous group B qualifiers.
“I remember a few years ago watching Bermuda doing incredibly well in the Gold Cup and that’s when my desire to be part of it really picked up. I reached out to a few of the players and eventually that led to Danté agreeing to catch up with me ahead of the first two qualifiers.
“I came back to Bermuda off my own back and after a 14-day quarantine period I had the chance to train with the squad. I didn’t quite make that squad, but I was confident in myself that I had enough to be called up soon.
“I just felt like I needed a platform to show the coaching staff what I could do and I must have done something right. I’m so excited to be given the opportunity and I’ll always be grateful to Danté because he really helped to get me a chance.”
Robinson is part of a new-look Bermuda squad, with an onus on emerging young talent amid the absence of senior personnel, including talisman Nahki Wells as well as Jaylon Bather, Zeiko Lewis and Reggie Lambe, while Kane Crichlow is also ruled out through injury.
While acknowledging the obvious void left by the absence of senior players, Robinson also is well aware that the circumstances can offer an opportunity to players such as himself to stake their claim.
“It definitely feels like a bit of a transition with some of the more experienced players missing,” he said. “Obviously you want those experienced players around but I think it is an exciting chance for a lot of players to try and stake their claims.
“We know the Surinam match will be a difficult one, but we have to back ourselves to go there and get the job done. It’s a huge game, but I’m really excited about the opportunity of playing and representing the country.
“I’m the sort of the player who likes to get on the ball, be direct and create chances, so hopefully I can get a chance to show that and stake a claim in future squads. I think it’s a great opportunity for a lot of the players in the squad to do that.”
As well as a chance to impress Lightbourne and his coaching staff, the fixtures could also offer Robinson an ideal platform to showcase his talent to possible suitors, having opted to leave Staines Town after the curtailment of the last campaign.
“Last season there was a real buzz around the club because we were battling at the top of the league and playing really well,” added Robinson, who made ten appearances for the club, scoring three goals. “However, when the season was cancelled, the manager and a number of the squad left, including myself.
“I definitely have the chance to put myself in the shop window, but my main focus is just to do my best for the national team and whatever might come from that is a bonus.”