Robert in 2011
|Full name||Laurent Robert|
|Date of birth||21 May 1975|
|Place of birth||Saint-Benoît, Réunion|
|Height||1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)|
|Playing position||Left winger|
|2005–2006||→ Portsmouth (loan)||17||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Robert began his professional career in his native France before making a move to English side Newcastle United, where he made his reputation as a free-kick specialist. His career has been noted for a number of high-profile disagreements with club management.
Born in Saint-Benoît, Réunion, Robert started his career at Montpellier, before signing for Paris Saint-Germain in 1999, and became a full international that Summer. In a Champions League match against Rosenborg in 2000 he set up the sixth goal in a 7–2 win.
In 2001, he joined English club Newcastle United for a fee of £9.5 million. During his stay at the club, Robert was known for his pace and crossing ability, and was often called upon to take corners and free kicks. He had a tendency to shoot from long ranges in both open play and free kicks (scoring four goals in the 2004–05 campaign, all from set pieces) and has scored from almost 40 yards (37 m) from goal – one of his most powerful shots has been measured at around 75 mph. The club qualified for the UEFA Champions League in his first season by finishing fourth, their best finish in five years. However, at the start of the following season, there were reports he was unhappy at the signings made by Robson in the summer of 2002. Despite this, he still chipped in with the goals as the club made it to the second group stage of the Champions League before finishing third in the Premiership.
His partnership on the left wing with full back Olivier Bernard earned the two reputations as fans' favourites for their displays. Robert's trademark corners and free kicks, combined with his pace and athleticism, added to his reputation in England. He scored many long-distance wonder goals and free kicks, including two against Tottenham Hotspur in December 2003 in a 4-0 win. It has been regarded as one of his finest displays. Newcastle went on to finish a slightly disappointing 5th when compared to the 3rd they achieved in the 2002-03 season, but the side managed to reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup despite the effect of injuries.
Robert spent several seasons at the club, before publicly falling out with manager Graeme Souness. His public criticism of the latter, as well as the entire Newcastle squad, resulted in Newcastle's desire to offload the troubled winger following the 2004–05 season. In his last match as a Newcastle player, Robert stripped down and threw his clothes into the Gallowgate End.
Following his time at Newcastle United and a falling out with the club, Robert moved to fellow Premier League team Portsmouth in June 2005 on a year-long loan, with two additional years agreed following the completion of the loan. The deal was created in order to expedite Robert's exit from St James Park, while allowing Portsmouth to protect themselves from Robert's well-documented temperament.
In his time at Portsmouth, Robert scored only one goal, in a 2–1 away loss to West Bromwich Albion. He refused to sit on the bench for the club's 4–1 win over Sunderland, storming out of the ground despite the relegation-threatened club's position. His actions left the club with only four substitutes of a possible five for the match. The sacking of Perrin and return of manager Harry Redknapp meant a return for the final games of 2005 for Robert, but would shortly be followed by Robert's return to Newcastle after his unsuccessful stint. Newcastle would again look to offload the winger as soon as possible, and a move to Portugal would materialize.
It was not long before he signed a three-and-a-half year contract with Ronald Koeman's Benfica side. Robert said: "This is a super club. To be able to play in the Champions League is fantastic and that's why I am here". He added: "They showed a lot of interest in me. I am very happy to be here."
Robert's first goal in the Portuguese Superliga was, not surprisingly, from a free-kick 40 yards (37 m) away against arch-rivals FC Porto. A powerful but fairly central free kick was spilled into the net by Vitor Baía.
Robert signed for Spanish La Liga side Levante UD on 11 July 2006 on a free transfer from Benfica. He played thirteen games before the season ended, twelve of those were incomplete (with one red card), scoring no goals.
Following a trial at Derby County, Robert signed a contract that would run until the end of the 2007–08 season.
MLS side Toronto FC announced on 2 April 2008, that they had signed Robert to a contract. He made his debut on 5 April, against D.C. United in the 4–1 loss. Robert impressed, delivering a number of excellent set piece opportunities. Robert continued to impress in his team's second match against Los Angeles Galaxy, delivering a free kick, from which the subsequent rebound was converted by Jarrod Smith en route to a 3–2 victory, Toronto's first of the 2008 season. On 19 April, Robert scored his only MLS goal from a free kick in the 31st minute of the first home game for Toronto against Real Salt Lake, and was named "Man of the Match" in the 1–0 victory. In his last game with the team he was substituted at half-time. He was waived by Toronto FC on 19 August 2008.
Super League Greece side Larissa announced on 27 August that they signed in Robert for two-years, as a replacement for Nektarios Alexandrou who was released from his contract a few days before. He joined up with his former Newcastle teammate Nikos Dabizas.
Robert appeared nine times for France, making his debut against Northern Ireland on 18 August 1999. He scored his only goal for his country on 15 November 2000 in a 4–0 win over Turkey. He was also selected for the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Robert's goal against Liverpool in the 2004–05 season at St James' Park is used as the winner against the same team in Goal!. Character Santiago Muñez (Kuno Becker) strikes it and it zooms out as Robert's free kick hits the top corner. In Goal! 2: Living the Dream..., his overhead kick against Fulham is featured as Muñez's goal at the start.
|Club||Season||League||National Cup||League Cup||Other||Total|
|Paris Saint-Germain||1999–2000||Division 1||28||9||5||3||—||33||12|
|Newcastle United||2001–02||Premier League||36||8||3||1||3||1||—||42||10|
|Portsmouth (loan)||2005–06||Premier League||17||1||0||0||0||0||—||17||1|
|Derby County||2007–08||Premier League||4||0||9||0||9||0||—||4||0|
|Toronto FC||2008||Major League Soccer||17||1||—||—||4[e]||0||21||1|
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