Callum Robinson knows exactly what it means to put on the green shirt and represent Ireland with passion and pride. Nobody can contest that, even so early into his international career.
Whenever the Preston man has appeared for Ireland he’s been one of O’Neill’s most lively players, providing pace, energy and that certain spark the side has been yearning for for so long.
In a way, Robinson speaks the way he plays. Positively and energetically. Like a kid living out his childhood dreams, in the green of Ireland.
Like so many involved in the squad, Robinson was born in England and represented them at underage level, but qualifies for Ireland through his mother, a woman he is incredibly close with.
Robinson opted to switch allegiances and represent Ireland earlier this year and at the team’s press conference at FAI HQ on Tuesday, the 23-year old spoke about how his family were a huge reason for him opting to represent the Boys in Green
“Mine (decision to choose Ireland) was obviously more recent,” began Robinson.
“I just sat down with my Mum and Dad and spoke it through. I think the main thing is family is very important.
“If it means more for your family to be playing for Ireland than it does to be playing for England then that has a big part to play in it.
“I know for sure it means more for my family that I play for Ireland than it does for England.”
As mentioned previously Robinson has impressed whenever he has featured for Ireland and could see himself as O’Neill’s main attacking option now considering his excellent form at club level and the unfortunate injury to Shane Long.
The Preston man clearly loves being involved in the Irish international set-up and spoke of the influence of his loved ones but also his Deepdale teammates in what he called “the best decision” he’s ever made.
“You have to talk to your family and your close ones,” he began.
“I’d been thinking about it for a while and probably about 2 or 3 years ago I wanted to do it but with all the games in the Championship, I was only 19 or 20 and still growing.
“I didn’t think I was ready physically to be playing nationally as well and I used to speak to Alan Browne about it and really wanted to do it obviously then Seani (Maguire) came to Preston and in the end I just really wanted to do it and I spoke to my Mum and my family and it was the best decision I’ve made.
“I’m really enjoying it with the lads it’s helped my game as well so it’s been positive in every way.”
The idea of switching allegiances has been a huge bone of contention in Irish football of late with the decisions of Jack Grealish and more recently Declan Rice in opting to consider playing for England instead of Ireland.
Robinson feels that in his own personal situation the decision wasn’t too difficult due to the influence of his family. The Preston striker was also keen to point out that despite being of dual nationality as a person, he knows that his passion lies with Ireland, rather than England on the pitch.
“I don’t think it’s too difficult if your loved ones want you to do it and play for Ireland and to be honest I know that I feel much more passion playing for Ireland than I would England and that’s not me just saying that.
“I think it means more for my Mum who is the closest woman in my life and I know it means more for my other family in general so it’s not hard if you know your loved ones and yourself want you to play for Ireland.”
The 23-year old however does accept that not every decision can be as simple as his and sympathises with those, like Rice, who may be still split between the two countries.
“It’s hard if you haven’t got loved ones there backing you and wanting you to play for Ireland whereas some families you might be playing for Ireland but your close ones want you to play for England which is then hard on the player because he’s split between the two.
“But if you know what you want to do and you’re nailed on it shouldn’t be hard.”