“I abandoned everything behind” – Portsmouth loanee recounts leaving Australia at the age of 12, turning down Arsenal, and departing Manchester United for Manchester City…

What started as an Australian eight-year-old going on a family vacation to England eventually transformed into a footballing career for Alex Robertson.

Today, this skillful midfielder is gaining recognition as one of Manchester City’s most promising talents. This reputation is currently blossoming during an impressive loan stint with League One leaders, Pompey.

The incredible journey began with the difficult decision to leave his family home in Sydney at the tender age of 12. It involved a relentless pursuit of international clearance that stretched for almost two years, and it culminated with a bold switch from Manchester United to Manchester City.

The catalyst behind this journey was Alex’s father, Mark, a former Australian international midfielder who had played for clubs like Burnley, Swindon, Dundee, St Johnstone, and Stockport County. He wanted his son to have the opportunity to train with a team during their English holidays, a request that was granted by Warren Joyce, the under-23s coach at Manchester United.

Alex Robertson, born in Scotland, shared with The News: “Whenever I came to England on holiday, starting from the age of eight or nine, I would participate in training sessions with Manchester United. It wasn’t a formal commitment at that point; I didn’t have to sign any contracts.”

“I also trained with other clubs like Liverpool, Blackburn, and Bolton, just to pass the time while I was in England. When I turned 12, Manchester United approached us and asked if we would consider relocating. My family was seeking a change, so we left Australia. However, I had to obtain international clearance, which took around 18 months to two years.”

“While waiting for clearance, I had to sign trial forms every 6-8 weeks so I could continue playing for United. At one point, it seemed like the clearance might not come through, so we went back to Australia for a brief period.”

“This was quite challenging for my family. We weren’t sure about what would happen. My parents had to take turns traveling between Australia and England to look after me. I didn’t even see my older sister for a year-and-a-half.”

“My childhood was quite different. Some boys have friends they’ve known since they were very young from the same area, friends they still talk to. Meanwhile, I had to pack my suitcase and leave everything behind.”

“I don’t really see my cousins; they’re all in Australia, so it’s quite challenging to have that kind of life. But I wouldn’t change a thing.”

After spending three years at Old Trafford, Robertson was enticed to join City’s under-15s in 2017. His promising development led to a professional contract in July 2020, and he has since made two appearances in the EFL Trophy for the Premier League champions’ Under-21s.

While he hasn’t had the opportunity to make his cherished first-team appearance so far, his impressive loan spell at Fratton Park is a step closer to achieving that goal.

Robertson also reflected on his decision to join Manchester City, saying, “At United, we were defeated 6-0 by City, and afterwards, they asked my parents to come in for a meeting. I was a bit perplexed, thinking, ‘We just got thrashed by you, so why do you want to talk?'”

“But they had been observing me closely. Several other clubs were interested, and I even visited Arsenal to explore their training ground. However, City felt like the best fit.”

“I was young, and I was already in Manchester. My family was also in Manchester, so I thought it was best to stay here, living in Sale.”

“Considering everything I went through to move here and the sacrifices of not seeing people close to me, I hope that everything I do makes them proud.

I’m doing my best for my family. They endured more than I did, leaving their lives behind and coming here for football and jobs.”

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