Hat-trick hero Callum Robinson returns to the Hawthorns with many in Ireland adoring him. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Callum Robinson has earned rave reviews from his countrymen after two player-of-the-match performances for the Republic of Ireland.
The West Bromwich Albion striker has been on international duty and returns to the Baggies with five goals in two matches.
Robinson netted a brace in Ireland’s 2-0 win over Azerbaijan in World Cup qualifying before topping off the period with a hat-trick against Qatar in front of a sold-out crowd at the Aviva Stadium.
Before the match, Robinson attracted attention after revealing to the media he has not yet vaccinated himself against COVID-19, despite twice catching the virus.
The controversy around this seemed to spur on the striker according to former Aston Villa midfielder Ray Houghton, who made 73 appearances for Ireland.
"It’s amazing at times how situations like that spur you on and you start to prove yourself,” said Houghton whilst fulfilling his role as pundit for RTE Sport.
"His all-round game last night was really good. His third goal, he came short, wanting to get involved in the build-up play and realised that it wasn’t for him.
"Then he spun in behind the back line and that gave Hendrick the opportunity to play that lovely through ball.
"His movement for that goal really showed you what a quality striker should be doing. We haven’t seen that anywhere near enough in the previous games but after the win on Saturday, something has clicked."
Robinson’s goals were the first he had scored for Ireland since November 2019, ending an almost two-year wait for an international goal in a string of 20 matches without a goal.
He also became the first Irish player to score a hat-trick in six years, matching the feat of Tottenham Hotspur legend Robbie Keane.
Robinson’s international teammate Conor Hourihane, who plays for Championship rivals Sheffield United, on loan from Aston Villa, believes Robinson could be the key player to lead the line for the Boys in Green.
"It’s a big boost for the squad. The one thing since I came into the squad was the lack of goals," said Hourihane to the Independent.ie
"Shane Duffy gets his head to a few, but Callum has had a fantastic week and hopefully he can be that player for us.”
In response to the positive feedback from both a former player, as well as his teammate, Robinson played down comparisons of Robbie Keane but said he would aspire to be like him.
"I could say I’m ready to follow someone like Robbie Keane but what a hell of a player he was, it’s a hell of an achievement for myself to be named with players like him,” he said to RTE Sport.
"I’ve got a long way to go before I can put my name against his but I’ll keep working hard and hopefully keep scoring goals for my country."
It is hopeful now he will be able to carry the form into club duty to help his side achieve their goal of promotion to the Premier League. He has already scored three times in seven games already in the Championship and will want to net more, beginning with Friday’s game with Birmingham City on Friday.