How Owen is shaping future of Aussie starlet Robertson at Man City


When you have England great Michael Owen as a mentor, a four-year contract with Manchester City in the offing and four countries vying for your allegiance you know you’re doing something right.

Welcome to the surreal world of 15-year-old Australian football prodigy Alexander Robertson, a kid whose potential appears limitless.

And all that despite missing a sizable chunk of football over the last 18 months with hip and ankle injuries.

The son of Manchester-based former Socceroo Mark Robertson, Alexander - who turns 16 next month - is being hailed as one of the brightest young midfield prospects in Britain, let alone Australia.

He has an Adidas contract which stretches longer than the City deal he’s about to sign, two caps already for England’s Under-16s and Scotland, Peru - and of course Australia - wanting him to play for them at November’s Under-17 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Goal-king turned agent Owen, who burst onto the scene with a debut strike for Liverpool at 17, has signed Robertson up, and watches his every game for City’s academy team.

The 39-year-old, who scored 158 goals in 297 games for the Reds and 40 in 89 appearances for England, imparts all the wisdom he can in striving to maximize Robertson’s abundant gifts.

Back in Australia for a family wedding with dad Mark - grandfather Alex Robertson also played for the Socceroos - the quietly-spoken teenager is taking it all in his stride.

Born in Scotland, he lived in Australia between the ages of five and 12 and idolised Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard growing up. He now follows the Dele Alli template.

“Being offered the City contract is great and getting it all sorted and putting pen to paper is the main focus right,” Alexander told The World Game, as he nears recovery from an ankle injury.

“Injuries are hard mentally and physically ... I’m just grateful the club have offered me such a great deal and have shown so much faith in me.

“The first team’s training pitch is right outside my changing room, so whenever they train, say before a Champions League game, you get to watch.

“That’s good because (being out there with them) is where you want to be one day.

“Pep Guardiola comes to watch our games sometimes. We went on tour to Belgium and he came and watched us there.

“He speaks to us a little bit, and it’s good when you see him there, offering us his feedback also.”

Having one time European footballer of the year Owen in his corner is another piece of the jigsaw.

“It’s unbelievable having him there,” he said.

“He’s more like a mentor to me than an agent. We go out for dinner together and speak about life in general. And it’s great to hear about his past experiences in football.

“His advise to me is to just try and develop as much as I can and not worry too much about trying to play for trophies or anything like that at this stage.

“He just wants me to enjoy my football.”

Acknowledged for his dynamism, endurance, eye for goal, aerial prowess and assurance on the ball, Robertson - who was snatched by City from under the noses of Manchester United - speaks with a distinct Lancashire twang.

But it’s Scouse great Gerrard, who caught his eye growing up.

“He was my favourite player from an early age,” Alexander said.

“It was just how he was: how he tackled, scored goals and provided assists. His passing range and just everything about him.

“I still watch his clips but I’m also a fan of Dele Ali now, for his attacking ways. I study his game quite a bit.

“I love to get forward, create goals and score goals.”

Robertson finishes school in June, and will simultaneously become a full time professional.

Meantime, he’s out to overcome “the bad luck” of his latest injury, insisting the setbacks have just made him “stronger”.

He’s keeping an open mind on all the international possibilities ahead of him, declaring: “To be honest, at the moment I’m not really thinking about it.

“I’m just trying to get back playing football, and when it comes to it I’ll start to think about it more.”

He scored for England against Turkey last year, and their St George’s training base is just an hour away from his home.

He is also eligible for Peru through his mother, and Scotland, having been born there.

Father Mark, who played club football for Swindon, Dundee, St Johnstone and Stockport, believes working with former Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle and Real Madrid striker Owen will be a big part of his development.

“Michael decided at a young age that although he was surrounded by great players he was going to be the best, and he’s given Alexander that sort of confidence,” Mark said.

“It’s all about pushing at every training session - and having Michael in his corner is massive.

“It’s been great relationship so far that will carry on for many many years.”

And on his international future, Mark reiterated that no decisions have been made.

“When Alexander is full-time professional the club I have no issue with him going to various camps," he said.

“Will meet and train with the nations and see which one he prefers.”

Australia will be doing all they can to make sure they get the nod.