Andy Robertson a Liverpool cult hero as Scotland captaincy continues meteoric rise
The main concern for fans during the international break is for players to return fully fit though it's still good to see your favourites do well for their country -- and none more so than Andrew Robertson. On Friday he will captain Scotland. It's only a friendly but it's against one of the world's best teams, Belgium.
Robertson's rise in football has been wonderful to witness and an inspiration to young players yet to reach the upper levels of the game. His country of birth adds more magic from a Liverpool fan's perspective.
With the huge impact the Scots had on Liverpool over the years, it's always sad to see them struggle at international level. Even when FIFA increased entrants for the World Cup, Scotland still couldn't get in.
In those halcyon days when Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Alan Hansen formed a mighty triumvirate for club and country, Liverpool supporters would cheer less for England and more for the one north of the border. Bill Shankly is considered the father of the modern Liverpool, too, so the club's Scottish roots run deep.
Robertson's first year at Anfield saw him become a first-team fixture and appear in a Champions League final. Leading his country is hopefully another marker on his rise to the top.
After the Reds beat Leicester 2-1 another lower league recruit, Joe Gomez, received most praise. Robertson's performance was just as impressive, yet it seems that gets taken for granted these days.
The left-back ticks a number of boxes when it comes to the "cult" footballer. It's easy to love the expensive superstar who scores many goals. Some find that a bit obvious and favour those further down the pecking order instead.
The modern game feels like it's all about the chequebook, so whenever your club finds a bargain that plays as brilliantly as other clubs' multi-million purchases, it feels like you've hoodwinked the system somehow.
It also indicates a club getting better at this, after a week which saw Lazar Markovic remain on its books four years after signing for £20 million. The summer of 2014 seems an awful long time ago.
In Liverpool's team the two full-backs cost a fraction of what Manchester City paid for theirs, for example.
The cult footballer is also revered for the effort he puts in. Supporters can fantasise what it's like to be Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo but they more realistically identify with the sort of player they would've been if they were lucky enough to wear the shirt of the club they support; honest and passionate. In that way, Robertson's high-energy style taps into a fervour that stretches all the way back to Joey Jones in the 1970s.
Liverpool have had no luck with left-backs for years. For a while, even Robertson was frustrated by Jurgen Klopp's baffling desire to give Alberto Moreno more opportunities.
After a season when James Milner deputised in that position, fans couldn't understand why Robertson didn't get in much earlier. Moreno kept making errors but even then it was his injury that forced Klopp's hand. Once given his chance, Robertson never looked back
There are tricks of perception, admittedly. If a player comes from the youth team or for a small fee, he is naturally afforded more patience than big signings.
People are already questioning why £40m man Fabinho isn't playing yet -- four games into the season. Cheap or free players don't have to put up with such nonsense but patience isn't infinite.
Liverpool aren't exactly paupers, yet they're playing a different game to the two Manchester clubs, for example. Klopp has to be smarter, and if he's managed to nail down half of his defence with Trent Alexander-Arnold from the academy and Robertson from Hull, it releases funds for other areas of the pitch.
News of the Scottish captaincy may only cause mild ripples throughout football but for Liverpool there's the added bonus of having yet another leader on the pitch. With most big teams, captaincy is almost nominal. Hansen, Souness and Dalglish were all leaders in a way and it's no coincidence Liverpool were most successful during their era.
It's a small but important acknowledgement of Robertson's character and one that's been universally welcomed -- even by those fans whose only interest in internationals is when they'll be over.
Football can be cruel and this week's hero turns into next week's villain more often than in other walks of life.
Robertson's slow grind to the top will hopefully stand him in good stead. His displays so far this season have almost been greeted with a collective shrug -- "of course he's been good".
It's another hopeful sign Liverpool have a new star in the making.