SNOOKER STAR ROBERTSON VISITS COBHAM
Cobham played host to world snooker number one, and big Chelsea supporter, Neil Robertson earlier today (Thursday).
The Australian, who is currently preparing for the UK Championships, which begin in York at the end of this month, was a guest of the club at our Surrey training ground, where both players and staff alike were in great spirits following last night's 3-0 Champions League win over Schalke.
Robertson was invited along to watch the players undergo a training session, but prior to that he had a sporting test of his own - a game of pool against club captain John Terry.
'I was in the canteen in the morning before training to meet the players and I ended up playing a couple of games of pool against John Terry, who was a lot better than I expected,' Robertson explains.
'A few people told me that he used to have a table at home which he played a lot on, and that he's the club champion on the pool table, so I was looking forward to it.
'He told me he was really nervous beforehand, but trust me, I was a lot more nervous than him, especially when I broke off for the first frame and he came on and cleared the table!
'Then we played a second frame, where he broke off and I cleared the table, so we stopped it at that - a 1-1 draw.'
The visit was also an opportunity for the 2010 world champion to catch up with compatriot Mark Schwarzer, who retired from international football earlier this week.
'Football is growing back in Australia and Mark Schwarzer has been Australia's greatest-ever goalkeeper, so obviously it's fantastic to see him here,' he says.
'It makes things even more interesting for me, as an Australian Chelsea fan. Obviously, Petr Cech is No. 1 but Mark has been one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League over the last 10 years or so.'
After watching training, Robertson secured the signatures of the whole squad for his replica home shirt before settling down for some lunch in the Cobham canteen, where he had a photo taken with Jose Mourinho before engaging in a lengthy conversation with Cech.
The 31-year-old went on to explain how a Gianfranco Zola goal on a wet, January evening in 2002 led to him becoming hooked on the beautiful game, and one club in particular.
'I was watching the game against Norwich when Zola scored that goal with the back-heel flick at the near post, and that was the first bit of skill that made me think, "Wow, that was amazing." he recalls.
'I moved back to Australia for a couple of years following that time, but when I moved back here, to live in Cambridge in 2003, everyone was saying, "Which team are you going to support? You've got to support a team."
'I told them that I used to follow Chelsea when I lived here before and, at that time, (Jimmy Floyd) Hasselbaink and (Eidur) Gudjohnsen were still there. It was Zola's last season, so obviously I stuck with those guys.
'Of course, at that point, Roman Abramovich hadn't bought the club, so none of the other (snooker) players had a problem with it. They were saying we were never going to win the league, and then all of a sudden Abramovich came in and everyone was saying I was jumping on the bandwagon.
'Over time I have become a really big supporter, and I follow everything about the game, right down to the youngsters coming through. That's why it was such an honour for me to meet guys like John Terry, Oscar, (Juan) Mata and Schwarzer. I've really enjoyed the day - it's been brilliant.'
On leaving Cobham, Roberson was heading directly to Stamford Bridge to embark on a tour of the stadium, and while he hasn't been able to attend any matches this season so far, largely due to his gruelling snooker schedule, he hopes to be back in SW6 in the near future to watch his favourite team in action.
'I've been on tour for the last few months, travelling to China, India and other countries around Europe, so I haven't been able to get to a game yet this season,' he explains.
'But I've got a couple of big tournaments coming up in the UK, which means I should be able to get to four or five games over the next couple of months.'