Q&A Special With Robbie Elliott - Part 1

  • May 28, 2014 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/c7e24

13 years after his departure, former Bolton defender Robbie Elliott gives us an exclusive interview on his time at the Reebok Stadium.

Elliott spent four years with Wanderers, signing for a then club record fee of £2.5million in in July 1997, before leaving to rejoin his childhood club - Newcastle United - in the summer of 2001, following the Trotters' promotion back to the Premier League.

In our latest edition of Q&A, Elliott tells us about the horrific broken leg he suffered soon after joining the club, defeat in the 2000 FA Cup semi-final, THAT play-off loss at Ipswich Town and why Bolton couldn't stand in the way of him and a second opportunity to make a career at Newcastle.

Q: You joined Bolton in 1997 for a then-club record fee of £2.5million, but disaster struck in the first ever game at the Reebok Stadium when you broke your leg. Do you feel as though this had an impact on your future, did it shorted your career and would the modern sports science techniques have helped with your recovery?

A: It had a huge impact on my future. I had a triple leg break with a spiral fracture, which put me out of action for around 14 months in total.

I remember my first day back at the club, hobbling into the treatment room with a full cast on my leg. It was back in the day where there was only one physio and no fitness coaches. I asked him what I was going to do and he responded, 'I'm getting these two ready to play on Saturday; You can go to the gym'.

I totally got I wasn't a priority at the time and I was at a crossroads with either playing around with my rehab, or actually learning what I should be doing - so I ended up going back to college and started a Sports Science degree.

I used the 14 months I was out to study and train myself but it also gave me the opportunity to sit back and watch the team and learn about the club/players and my whirlwind move.

Q: After missing out on promotion in 1999 and 2000, Wanderers beat Preston North End in the 2001 play-off final to reach the Premier League. That game would prove to be your swansong appearance for the club, as you headed back to Newcastle United that summer. What was the story behind your departure - were you offered fresh terms or was the lure of a second spell with your hometown club too good to turn down?

A: It wasn't until after the play-off final win that my agent actually informed me who the club was that wanted to sign me. I was out of contract and he didn't want me to know it was Newcastle until I had done what I was at Bolton to do - help them win promotion.

I spoke with Sam (Allardyce) and there was an offer on the table from Bolton, but he didn't even show it to me as he knew the opportunity to go back home to Newcastle was one I wasn't going to turn down.

Bolton were fantastic in how they conducted the move, the support and understanding they showed and I left on great terms.

Q: Going back to the play-off campaigns of '99 and 2000, you were controversially sent off in a semi-final at Ipswich Town, during a game refereed by Barry Knight. What do you remember from that night and what goes through your mind whenever it is mentioned?

A: Talk about a crazy game! From being seconds away from winning, to losing, was hard to take. It just about summed our season up in one game.

The referee lost total control and had no idea how to run the game. It felt like the season was wasted, as we should have got promoted that season. As bad as that season was with the disappointments, the way the squad reacted and made amends the next season speaks volumes for the type of players and staff we had at the club.

Q: Just six weeks prior to that game, Wanderers suffered semi-final heartbreak in the FA Cup - losing on penalties to Aston Villa at Wembley Stadium. In that game, Dean Holdsworth put the ball over the crossbar with an empty goal in front of him and a place in the final looming. With FA Cup finals so few and far between for clubs of our stature, what was the mood in the camp after that game?

A: Nevermind the club's stature and the players we had, those opportunities don't come around very often.

We were so close and, again, it pretty much summed up our season. To lose in one semi-final is hard to take, but to lose three in one season - I don't think that has ever happened!

I'm not sure I've endured many worse bus journeys home and there was definitely a sour taste in our mouths in our next game, against Manchester City.

I don't know of any players of my generation that hadn't grown up watching the FA Cup final build up and dreaming of walking out onto the hallow turf at the old Wembley. As you said, we were a crossbar away - which still hurts now.

Burnden Aces would like to thank Robbie for taking the time to answer our questions. You can read more of his views by following him on Twitter - @robbieelliott3. Part two of our exclusive Q&A interview with Elliott will be posted tomorrow morning.

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