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'It was the same corner where I beat Valdes . . .'

BARRY ROBSON helped make history for Aberdeen on Sunday.

Barry Robson's three children join him on the park after Sunday's League Cup final victory. Picture: SNS
Barry Robson's three children join him on the park after Sunday's League Cup final victory. Picture: SNS

He was emboldened and encouraged by a personal history that extended far beyond the League Cup final. "I had my three kids on the park and I've had some terrific times at this place," he said of Celtic Park after Aberdeen's defeat of Inverness Caledonian Thistle on penalties that ended the trophy drought for the club that stretched back 19 years.

"I've had some great nights, great moments," said Robson who played for Celtic from 2008-2010, winning a league title and a league cup.

It was the championship victory that was recalled as the Aberdeen bus arrived at Parkhead on Sunday. "I saw all the fans outside and it reminded me of when we won the league in 2008 with Celtic after Tommy Burns had died," he said.

"The game was at Tannadice and we got back here at 1.30 in the morning. The place was packed.

"I felt that click in my head and thought: 'This is just like that night'. It was an incredible feeling to arrive at Parkhead and see what it meant to the Aberdeen fans.

"I like Hampden but to be able to come back to a place where I've had a lot of success, in front of fans who've been good to me, and win a cup was great."

Robson, now 35, has never been one to shirk responsibility and he took the first penalty emphatically in the shoot-out, giving Aberdeen immediate momentum after the miss by Inverness' Billy McKay.

It also conjured up memories of the past. "My penalty was at the end where I scored against Barcelona The ball ended up in the same corner. It went over Valdes' head," Robson said of the goal in the 2008 Champions League campaign.

Robson celebrated his shoot-out penalty with some exuberance. "It wasn't as big a celebration as the one I had at the other end of the pitch in the Old Firm game. I nearly jumped into the camera that day," he said of another jubilant moment at Celtic Park in 2008.

He admitted to some nerves before the match on Sunday. However, a former manager raised his spirits. "I got a text message from Gordon Strachan on the morning of the game. He was telling me to 'stay focused' and to enjoy it," he said.

"I texted him back saying, 'I'll only enjoy it if we win it!' Gordon is a terrific man and that was a nice touch from him."

Robson was frank about the quality of play in a tense final, saying: "Being honest, I looked at the two teams and saw sides who didn't want to lose a cup final. It's been a long time since Aberdeen have won anything and I'd a feeling it would be really tough. There was a chance we'd have to grind it out and we did that very well."

He added: "It's been a long season. At this stage, you don't see that much great football being played. There are tired legs. The main thing for us was to get over the line.

"If we're ever in a cup final again, we might express ourselves a bit better. But I don't care. We won the game and we won the cup."

He conceded that Aberdeen also missed the pace and penetration of Peter Pawlett, who was injured, and Jonny Hayes who lasted all of 12 seconds before leaving the field with a damaged shoulder.

However, another final is possible with St Johnstone barring the way to the climax of the William Hill Scottish Cup, again at Celtic Park.

Robson believes Aberdeen will be stronger for the events of Sunday.

"These boys are winners. I see them every day in training. The manager has that mentality too," he said of the strength of mind at Pittodrie. He was unsparing in his praise of Derek McInnes, now his manager but once a colleague at Dundee United.

"I played with him and know him inside out," said Robson. "He'll be analysing things and speaking to players about coming in during the summer.

"A few of us will have to leave but that's just the way football is. But he'll have us back in this week and I know what he'll say: 'That's it done - let's go again'. We have some big games coming up."

Robson is ready to commit himself to leading a young team forward. "I'd love to," he said. "I feel good and that's credit to the manager. He's left me out at times and I hate it. But he watches me and sometimes I think he knows me better than I know myself."

Robson, who has 17 international caps, will be 36 in November but anticipates an extended career.

"I've looked after myself and I still feel I can move about the pitch well. I'd love to keep going for the next few years but that depends on injuries," he said.

"Luckily, I've never had any serious ones and I'll be ready to go next year. I just need to prove myself to the club and show I can stay."

His link to Aberdeen is strengthened by a boyhood in Inverurie. "I have some people there who have supported Aberdeen all their lives," he said. "I had a minibus of friends travel down from the game, with their families and kids."

He bought a wad of tickets for the match but he has a fund-raising ruse. "I got a bonus from winning the cup and I asked the chairman if he was going to treble it now we'd won the cup," he said.

His mates have been generally faithful in paying for the tickets but Robson added: "I'll need to go and buy them a load of drinks now."

He dreams of doing the same if Aberdeen reach and then win another final at Celtic Park on May 17. The toast will be to history overcome and history made.

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