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Bowled over by Robinho exclusive

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Dan Walker | 11:52 UK time, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

The exclusive! The sort of thing that every journalist dreams about but almost never delivers. In the world of modern media, an "exclusive" is almost as rare as a defender's hat-trick or a tasty brown banana.

And yet last week we had one. There weren't any clandestine meetings or weeks of research, but it was a bona fide exclusive nevertheless. A "you can hear the rest of that interview on Football Focus" jaffa.

The subject was Robinho and this blog is the story of how it came about.

It started, as everything seems to start, with a phone call from the Focus editor. "Can you go to Manchester next Tuesday? You've got a one-on-one with Craig Bellamy." "No problem," I replied, before ringing the office to book a train.

Ten minutes later the phone went again. "Forget it," said the Focus editor. "Bellamy's pulled out!" came down the line. "No problem" I replied. Within the hour, he was back on again. "Right, you are going to Manchester but this time you're interviewing Robinho." Aware of my previous two responses, I went for a simple "OK" on this occasion. "Is there a problem?" asked the Focus editor. "No, no problem," I replied.

The interview had been set up as part of the Premier League's "Places for Players" campaign and turned out to be something of a logistical nightmare.

Manchester City, one of the most pro-active clubs out there, had organised for almost the entire first team to head to a bowling alley south of the city to entertain 60 children who would never normally get the chance to meet their heroes.

Carlos Tevez goes for a strikeStylish Tevez in full flow

We were meant to be at the venue for 1300 GMT, the players were due between 1330 and 1400, and our interview with Robinho was pencilled in for just after 1400. We were all set up and waited for the madness to begin.

"Are you a footballer?" a 12-year-old girl asked me. "Sadly not," I replied. "We're here to interview one a bit later, though." She cannot have heard me properly, because her next question was "Are you off Coronation Street then?" Again, I answered in the negative.

"Who are you filming?" she asked, when the penny finally dropped. "Is it Micah Richards? He signed my forehead at the end of last season... it were wicked!." "No, we are here to do Robinho," I explained. "ROBINHO? ROBINHO'S COMING HERE? Wait till I tell Gemma!" With that, she disappeared off towards the air hockey tables.

Shaun Wright-Phillips and Nedum Onuoha then scuttled in, closely followed by Shay Given and Gareth Barry. Then it was Adebayor, Petrov, Toure and Richards, while Silvinho, Santa Cruz and Tevez waltzed up a secret staircase. The kids were all wide-eyed in the presence of greatness, but there was still no sign of Robinho.

It wasn't for a lack of organisation. Three of the club's press officers were in attendance, along with two girls from the Premier League and one from the local council, who was organising the children.

"He will definitely be here" shifted slowly towards "where on earth is he?" to eventually "I can't believe he's not coming!"

The kids were loving it - Richards was signing that girl's arm - but producer Nick, cameraman Sean and sound legend Rob were starting to feel the effects of an early start.

At 1515, we approached City's press warriors and suggested it was time to go for a back-up. They asked who we would like and we gave them a little shortlist... Adebayor, Tevez or Stephen Ireland. They went off for a little chat amongst themselves and came back two minutes later with the offer of Adebayor.

Throughout the subsequent interview, kids were banging on the walls of the room we were in and calling for autographs, but we got through it and Adebayor was really open about being at City, his hopes for the season and that celebration against Arsenal.

Once we'd finished, the players started to say their goodbyes and Mark Hughes turned up to give out the prizes. But just when we were considering packing up and heading home, there was a kerfuffle at the entrance to the bowling alley.

I spotted a diminutive Brazilian surrounded by children... it was our man! He strolled across with a beaming grin and apologised profusely for his lateness (I am able to forgive people most things as long as they sincerely say they are sorry). We promptly ushered the £32.5m record-signing into our little room along with his translator, Jose.

Robinho grinned his way through questions about City, Hughes, his team-mates, the World Cup and his future. About three hours before the interview, I'd had a discussion with one of the club's press officers. They were a little wary about me mentioning the 'B' word - Barcelona - but Robinho was only too happy to discuss his future in football.

When he pledged to stay at City for between five and 10 years, first in Portuguese and then perfect English, eyebrows were raised all over the place. We knew we had an interesting story on our hands, so on the train home there were various phone calls between the BBC press office, the Premier League, Manchester City and the Football Focus office to decide when the quotes would be released.

Important people thought Friday morning was the best option, so a press release was prepared and a clip made available to the BBC Sport website and BBC Radio. By 0900 the next day, our little chat with the smiling Brazilian was all over the place and lots of people were saying "you can see the full interview on Football Focus tomorrow".

Now I am not going to claim that this story matches the Tiger Woods tale in magnitude, but a few more like these would keep us all very happy.

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By the way, just to clear up the top five Christmas nuts from your comments and emails last week, here's the definitive list:

1. King Cashew
2. Almond (various varieties)
3. Chestnut (optional roasting)
4. Pistachio (despite the casing)
5. Peanut (dry-roasted comes top of the shop)

This week, why not let me have your favourite Christmas nibbles, excluding nuts, of course. The satsuma will take some beating in my book...

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  • Comment number 1.

    Can't beat a mince pie this time of year.

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice blog Dan, but I have to disagree with you on the nuts. What happened to the mighty macadamia? And almonds in second? Outrageous.

  • Comment number 3.

    Great blog Dan, How was Robinho to interview? I'm not too sure we will be seeing him at City for 5 years.

  • Comment number 4.

    Pigs in Blankets!!! Oh yes.

    Come to think of it i enjoy them so much why do i only have them at Christmas time????

  • Comment number 5.

    Nice blog Dan, no mention of you testing your bowling skills against some of the Prem elite so I guess it was just work based.

    As for snacks - how could you forget the honey roasted peanut or the honey roasted peanut and cashew combo for that matter?

  • Comment number 6.

    Afternoon all. I shall return to this later coz I've just got to go out and interview Rio Ferdinand for Saturday.

    By the way could to see that Tilly & Sammy's lovechild (#5) has mentioned the power of nut combos. This is previously unchartered territory but potentially fruitful.

  • Comment number 7.

    Talking of combos... not sure if this comes under 'nuts' or 'other snacks' but a mate recently introduced me to salted peanuts mixed with a bag of cheese and onion crisps. If you have never tried it, give it a go... it will rock your world.

  • Comment number 8.

    As a Brazilian, I want to see him where he can do something good(Barcelona) not playing for a coach that has nothing to do with him(Mark Hughes)

    I don't dislike Man City, in fact, I want them to win the premier soon. But I really dislike Mark Hughes way to coach.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Dan.

    You're a busy man. One week án interview with a Brazilian in Manchester, and now you're off to see Rio.

    Was a good interview with the Merc City boys, Adebayor trying (and failing) to come over as a genuine guy that regretted his recent transgressions.

    Maybe it's just me, but I felt that Robinho's "statement of intent", that he would be at City for the next 5/10 years was as believeable as the dreaded "vote of confidence" statement you always hear from the chairmen right up until a few hours before their poor manager gets the sack.

    Christmas goodies, MMmmmmmmmmm, too many to list, I previously posted on the joys of an alcohol soaked Christmas Pud' but not being in the U.K, everything I get to hear or see remotely to do with the holiday seasons munchies gets my mouth watering.

  • Comment number 10.

    Switcheroo24 makes a very good on earth was the Macademia overlooked?

    If Robinho is at City this time next year I'll eat a whole one of those mini cheese things where the plastic is probably the tasty bit.

  • Comment number 11.

    Surely Robinho will now be signing for either MK Dons or Plymouth? GUARANTEED WORLD CUP VENUE, BAYBEE!

  • Comment number 12.

    Great report Dan .... again.

    2 interviews for the price of one, very good. Great to see the footballers doing this sor tof thing (bowling) for the kids.

    Congratulations to Ryan Giggs - I can't go past that one. If no one has ever seen his DVD - Ryan Giggs, True Red - well worth a watch.

    As with any footy fan with a bit of wit, there's no chance Robinho will be playing for city in 5 - 10 years time. He needs to improve.

    Christmas Nibbles: Hard to beat putting a heap of cocktail sausages into the oven at 180 for 30 minutes soaked in honey and sprinled with Chilli flakes. "O taste and see ... you know the rest.


  • Comment number 13.

    Just watching MOTD whilst eating the magical combination of cheese, silver-skin pickled onions and pineappple... OH YES!

    I join you in your love of the mince pie Brummerdickens (#1). I snuck one in earlier today.

    There seems to be some hefty support for the macadamia from switcheroo (#2) and cheeseisthedevilswork (#10) but sadly too late to push it into the top 5. Where were you when people were signing the praises of the almond last week?

    I am fully behind the support for the pig in blanket from LABSA89 (#4) and the sausage and chilli flakes welfare4wobblers (#12) but I will have to try TorbenPiechnick's suggestion (#7) of salted peanuts mixed with a bag of cheese and onion crisps before making further comment on the matter.

    And as for Robinho - Greenst (#3), Holloway2Holland (#9) and welfare4wobblers (#12) - I know where you are coming from with the skepticism. There are some who think he meant 'weeks' instead of 'years'. He was a genuinely nice bloke to interview - as was Adebayor - by the way. I was very impressed with both of them and who knows, perhaps Robinho will hang around for a while!

    If he stays for 10 years I will join cheeseisthedevilswork (#10) in eating a entire mini babybel and if he goes to MK Dons or Plymouth, as Sausagearms suggests (#11), I will eat 2 of them!

  • Comment number 14.

    Good post. Its good to read what happens behind the scenes.

    But I would be surprised to see Robinho at City in five years time unless City establishes itself as a team that can stay in the top four and also become stable.
    City has so far had just two losses which is good but then it has had 8 draws - the highest of any team at the moment and if those draws can be converted to wins then maybe Robinho will stay for longer. Just my thoughts.

    Full time analysis

  • Comment number 15.

    Turkey, stuffing and black pepper sandwich christmas day night after a good few pints in your local. I find that pretty hard to beat.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Dan, interesting blog about the city players...strange the way they did not plump for the likes of Gareth Barry as a back up interviewee! Nevermind

    Christmas nibbles - I do not think you can look further than the humble yet reliable Pig in blanket

  • Comment number 17.

    Very nicely done Dan, bit of a brucey bonus getting to interview Robinho! Was it a bit of a nuisance having to communicate via an interpreter? I have to say I too am very skeptical as to how long Robinho will actually stay at Eastlands......

    I'm made up that the mighty Cashew made the top spot in the nut rankings, awesome piece of snacky goodness.

    As far as the Pig in Blanket goes, I think that has to be the best food invention ever, they should be available all year round!

  • Comment number 18.

    Do you eat meals or just live on snack food? Go for the jelly beans.

    Interesting blog. I'd love top see the interviews on F.F. but that has gone the way of mincepies and christmas pudding. Just one question: how much of the day spent SITTING CHATTING with footballers and PLAYING ten pin bowling counts as good honest hard work?

    Bit disapointed with the Gooners result last night. What can I say- win at Anfield but draw at Turf Moor. Was it a real penalty?
    Perhaps Arsene should have followed MM's example and fielded ten kids, we might have won then. No offense to Turf Moor guys out there.
    Cardiff did well though; which is grand. Be good to see them promoted this year after so many end of season flops.

    By the way went out this morning to admire the whitetails and it was -13 centigrade. That has nothing to do with footie but I thought I would throw it out there.
    Press on.

  • Comment number 19.

    I must admit that, as much as I enjoyed both the Adebayor and Robinho interviews, whenever I saw the headline 'Robinho commits to Man City' in the days afterwards, I simply read it as 'Robinho says foolish thing'.

    Dan, was your pride in these interviews shaken by the way Lawro mercilessly took apart those stats about potential England strikers' penalty success? He seemed a bit grumpy, did someone forget to bring him his cup of tea on Saturday or something?

    My mum used to put chocolates on the Christmas tree, they were a good nibble. Although one year she did accuse me of eating the last one without asking and sent me to bed without any tea, when actually it had fallen behind the curtains. Bad times.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hello comrades.

    tomefccam (#16) you're right about Gareth Barry. He would have been top of the list but we did an interview with him about 6 weeks ago.

    OptimumDJ (#17) interpreters can be a bit of a pain, especially if they start talking in the middle of an answer. Jose was a good bloke though. Normally it can be really hard to get a flow going but Robinho understood all my questions and his English is very impressive.

    blaenorynyclwyd (#18) glad to hear you are enjoying the whitetails. I saw an owl the other day... well I thought it was an owl until it got a bit closer and turned out to be a crow.

    anightatthechopra (#19) "Dan, was your pride in these interviews shaken by the way Lawro mercilessly took apart those stats about potential England strikers' penalty success?" No way pal. I quite like it when the boys have a dig. I still think it's interesting the Darren Bent has only missed 1 of his 11 penalties. Lawro and Lee will come round to it eventually. Also, I hope you mum has since aplogised for the chocolate-on-the-tree-behind-the-curtains disaster!

  • Comment number 21.

    Hi Dan

    Enjoying your blogs and focus work. It'll be interesting to see how Hughes keeps all his offensive players happy, despite the mega-bucks. Maybe Robinho's hoping Mourinho will come in?

    Dry roasted peanuts rule for me, followed by the hazelnut, then pistachio, then the walnut.....I'd quite like some now thinking about it....

  • Comment number 22.

    Didn't SkySports interview Robinho which was shown on Wednesday before the Spurs game?

  • Comment number 23.

    If Robinho is still at City by the end of Jan I will eat my hat !
    Against Spurs he went AWOL (again) One of his main jobs against Spurs
    was to help Silvinho and ensure the avenues for Lennon would be
    stopped. And looked what happened ! For the money he is a complete
    joke. You can bet Hughes will ship him out in Jan (Barcelona?)

  • Comment number 24.

    Chocolate Raisins!!

  • Comment number 25.

    This reads like a kid's diary. Did the Beeb actually pay you to write this?

  • Comment number 26.

    #25, Your post reads like a jealous man's bitterness. Does your Mum actually pay for your computer? That is all.

    Dan, my mum did forgive me, in fact she presented me with a whole new box of chocs by way of an apology. It was fifteen years ago and the scars remain. The next year I hid the money in her purse behind the curtains, hoping for a similar result, but to no avail.

    Also, the fact is that any striker going into a shootout, regardless of their domestic record, is going to be thinking about famous faces from the past that have fluffed it, whether they want to or not. Neither you, they, Lawro, or Mr Capello can stop this (although I'm not suggesting you yourself are trying).

  • Comment number 27.

    Probably the most stomach churning sycophantic rubbish i've ever had the misfortune to read.

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Joey Barton. Still bitter?

  • Comment number 29.

    hello dan,

    nice blog!! .. however, i disagree with the nut list!!....when you were a kid were you never told " if it tastes of almonds, dont eat it!" so what is it doing in the top five!! noooooooo!! just to point out Cyanide apparently tastes of almonds..!!! and for some reason they put them in the nut and raisin tubs you get at christmas..!

    .. oh and surely cold turkey leftovers is the best bit...!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    David #25,
    If you do not like the blog why not simply scowl to yourself and change web pages? Why did you feel the need to scorn and belittle the blog master and those of us who like the blog? I guess those were your two options: change blogs -after all it is a free country, or go to the trouble of loging in just to scorn. Of those two option which would you say is the adult option and which the 'kids diary' option?

    Anightatthechopra, do you think there are those strikers who approach the penalty spot with just one thing on their mind and they could not give a 'proverbial' about old faces from the past.
    Three possibles here fellow CCFC-er : (a)they are paid a ton of money and their ego is weighs a ton so that all they focus on is themselves and their job, and / or (b) their professionalism is such that all they focus on is themselves and their job. and / or (c) The Aryton Senna perspective "Fate detirmined I am the team player with this responsibility / privilege, fate has detirmined the outcome and no one else is relevant." I would prefer to call this last one the 'Providence Perspective' but you know what I mean:- I do my duty and leave the consequences up to God.

    You need to improve on your ornithology old chap! As it happens I did not get out to see the whitetails, but thanks for asking. I was called out late last night to deal with a matter and I got home at midnight, then could not get to sleep coz my mind was in gear. My alarm woke me up at 4AM and the computer said the current temperature where I was traveling to was NEGATIVE 21centigrade (inc wind chill) I just got back into bed. Then woke up at a civil hour to read David's pejorative.

  • Comment number 31.

    robinho is an idiot...end of and all the tricks in the world dont make you a good plater compare robinho to cristiano and your pretty much done there!!!!!

  • Comment number 32.

    Hello blog people.

    mamas secret recipe (#22) asked "Didn't SkySports interview Robinho which was shown on Wednesday before the Spurs game?" They did pal but that was this week and our interview was last week.

    Chris (#23) you are right about Robinho stitching Silvinho up against Spurs. The boys on MOTD pointed out how little cover City had down that side against Lennon. Poor old Silvinho just couldn't cope on his own.

    anightatthechopra (#26) delighted to hear that the tree chocolate incident reached a happy conclusion and I very much enjoyed your rage against the almond Mace254 (#29). I too feel the pain of it making the top 2 but the people have spoken.

    Nick Banks (#27) our fan of hyperbole but not sycophancy. If you really are struggling with a churning-stomach let me suggest a pig-in-blanket. They seem to be very popular.

    David (#25) thanks for your 'constructive' criticism. I do worry about people who can get that angry in the middle of the night! If you want high-brow discussion then there is plenty to keep you happy on BBC website. This blog has always been a light-hearted look behind the scenes at Footall Focus and, no, I don't get paid for it. Merry Christmas.

  • Comment number 33.


    How it "reads" depends on the person actually perusing the article. To me I find Dan's blogs not only a bit of light hearted banter, but also an interesting look on how a show like FF is actually produced. Plenty of interesting revelations have appeared within this Blog in recent months.

    What can also be appreciated is the interraction Dan has on his blog, always willing to opffer and address opinion...his comical "polls" point to his personable approach to this blog. I'm guessing that as he does not get paid he is happy to offer his interactive blog as a means of receiving feedback to how he as a person is received which is in the most part highly favorable.


  • Comment number 34.

    dear sir Walker,

    this blog of yours makes me intensely happy. it's always a joy when I find a new interweb posting from you, and the happy banter it inspires. having awoken to a late start, I am now earnestly resolved to comandeer for myself a pig-in-a-blanket for lunch later. this should make up for missing the earlier championsleague draw.

    woul it be remiss of me to suggest a bit of on-screen fig roll eating on focus - a sort of festive Christmas sharing for the boys and you? you could even decorate the platter with a bit of ivy lest ye olde BBC viewers become perplexed as to whether ready steady cook has changed broadcast slots with ainsley harriot being mysteriously replaced. I think this would make for wonderful viewing!

    ps. where is the snow? London has had so little : (

  • Comment number 35.

    Why all the fuss over Robinho? What has he actually achieved in the game so far?
    Like many on here, I am also very sceptical as to how long he will stay at City. Until the World Cup is my guess - which is perhaps slightly longer than Hughes.
    Had to laugh about him turning up late. Still, it's better than when he goes away from home with City; then, he doesn't turn up at all!

  • Comment number 36.

    blaenorynyclwyd (#30), I just think that in every tournament the media plays clips of Pearce, Waddle, Southgate, Ince, Batty and all the others that missed last time out, and no one wants to be that guy in the musical montage of crushing penalty despair that gets played out before every game in the knockout stages. I suggest that perhaps the fact that everyone always bemoans their massive wages contributes heavily to the pressure not to make a dog's breakfast of what is, in theory if not in practice, the relatively simple task of scoring from 12 yards.

    34# no real snow in Manchester to speak of either, just a little dusting. I don't want any though, bah humbug, I'm supposed to be on a plane on Sunday.

    Also, just feel the need to say that I was woken up just now by the Duel in the Pool which is happening within touching distance of my window in my Halls of Residence. Everyone sounds awfully excited, thinking of popping over and asking them to keep the noise down.

  • Comment number 37.

    Having so clearly demonstrated in your blog that you consider Adebayor very much the booby prize, I wouldn't give much for chances of a second interview any time soon.

  • Comment number 38.

    Adebayor is in the same category as another one time Arsenal player, the notorious left back Cashley Hole. Also known as Mr. "I do not feel loved... poor me... so I am going to the blue shirts in the pursuit of greenbacks."

    I did not pick up any suggestion that Adebayor was the booby prize. I'm sure the Beeb were delighted to interview the man, especially as he wasn't charging an appearance fee.

  • Comment number 39.

    Tomefccam (#33), Oliver Jack (#34) your kind words have brought a tear to my eye. I'm afraid I can't deliver the fig rolls though Oliver although there will be mince pies on the programme tomorrow.

    I think many a City fan will agree with you Big4r_a_bore (#35) and, anightatthechopra (#36) why don't you pop down the road and get Sharon Davies in a headlock?

    And trevor4491 (#37) I wouldn't suggest Adebayor was a booby prize. We gave him just as much time as Robinho on the programme and I'd like to think he'd come on again. We'll see.

  • Comment number 40.


    All scripts are written. I'm off home for a crispy duck.

  • Comment number 41.

    Great blog. very interesting to read. well written.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hey Dan - great blog for the snackaholic!

    Well over here (Ukraine) the fave Christmas snack might be something like pickled fish or probably the humble pickled Gherkin! They can be quite tasty when soaked for a winter or so in the cellar in a vinegar laced with chili, garlic, & wild horseradish!

    By the way, seeing as the 4 cities in Ukraine have now been confirmed by UEFA as venues for EURO 2012 - here's hoping the FF crew will get a road trip out here to cover England in the tournament. If so - we can show you the ropes (and provide Gherkins!) The refurbed Metallist stadium here is quite impressive.


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