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From The Archives: When Frank Met Robbie

PUBLISHED

10:44 10th September 2012

Lampard's words revive Dennison link

Frank Lampard has carried out some pre-match media duties ahead of England’s next World Cup qualifier against the Ukraine tomorrow night.  And in the interviews he has name-checked our own Robbie Dennison, the former Wolves winger and fans’ favourite, following the time the two spent as room-mates at Swansea back in the mid 1990’s. 

“We were both on loan there – I was 17 and he was in his 30s,” says Lampard.

“We were at opposite ends of our careers and it was interesting.  I didn’t really know what to say to him when I lay in bed at night.  He had a wife and two kids and I wanted to go out…..”

Lampard’s chat has recalled memories of a piece we did with Robbie Dennison four years ago after Lampard’s book was released.

Here is that article reproduced and, remembering it’s back in the summer of 2008, the Inter Milan speculation is no longer valid!

 

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Frank Lampard's name is rarely out of the news at the moment as he is linked with a move from Chelsea to Inter Milan.

 

Claim, counter-claim and plenty more besides surrounds one of the most talked-about transfer sagas of the summer.

 

And if Frank needs a spot of help or advice about which direction to proceed, why not phone up his old mucker - Wolves legend Robbie Dennison?

 

O-k then, that might be stretching the point.

 

But the former Wolves winger was certainly a former acquaintance of the England midfielder when he was just setting out on his career some 13 years ago.

 

In his recently published autobiography, "Totally Frank", the 30-year-old Lampard talks of how he was sent on loan from West Ham to Swansea to sample his first taste of senior football back in October, 1995.

 

Already there was a certain Mr Dennison, also on loan in the Principality as his impressive decade-long Wolves career neared its conclusion.

 

The pair were fellow guests in the Hilton Hotel, as Frank recalls.

 

"Swansea's training ground was a bit grotty and I was shocked at the lack of facilities, never mind the difference in the way they played," he writes.

 

"There was an Irish lad there who was on loan from Wolves - Robbie Dennison.

 

"He was an old pro and had a cynical side to him which goes with years of experience at the less glamorous end of the game.

 

"I'm not sure what he thought of me at first but he ended up being a really good lad.

 

"We were in the same digs and had a couple of beers together on the odd night."

 

Robbie remembers those "odd nights" when meeting one of the future superstars of the English game with clarity.

 

Not least when it comes to the maturity of his young colleague.

 

"Frank was only 17 or 18 but was already very grown up," says Robbie.

 

"And he knew exactly what he wanted to be.

 

"We'd got some friends in Cardiff and I remember my wife Denise came down the once and we all met up.

 

"Frank was there and one of the friends asked him what he would do if he couldn't become a footballer.

 

"He just said he always knew he was going to be a footballer - there was no alternative - and so it has proved.

 

"To be fair, at that point you couldn't have said that he would go on to become the player that he has.

 

"Yes he had a good build and a good engine and was already a great athlete but he wasn't as physically strong as he is now.

 

"Even now a lot of his game is fairly simple in terms of what he does and he's not got the variety of skills of a Cristiano Ronaldo.

 

"But obviously he does what he does extremely well and has always had that determination and desire to work hard.

 

"If there was a glimpse of what was to come it arrived when he scored a cracking goal when Swansea won 2-0 on a midweek night at Brighton, a shot with the outside of his foot into the top corner.

 

"Clearly he was a confident character who knew what he wanted to do and had enjoyed a good grounding from his Dad and the Redknapp family."

 

Anyway back to Frank's words.

 

A "cynical side" to Robbie's game?

 

Not to mention another tale of the two almost getting involved in a fracas on a night out in the town?

 

Surely that's not the same Robbie Dennison who graced the Wolves flanks and chipped in with a glut of spectacular goals during the club's rise from the ashes of the dark days of the mid-Eighties?

 

"I'm not sure what he means by cynical - maybe I should sue," says Robbie with a laugh.

 

"In terms of being cynical I don't think I ever had anything bad to say about anyone - obviously I would have preferred to have still been at Wolves but I was enjoying playing football.

 

"I did get to know him reasonably well and perhaps we did share the odd night out.

 

"When you're holed up in a hotel for four nights a week boredom can set in and when we were able to we had a drink or two.

 

"Frank was happy enough because he knew he was going to go back to West Ham and that they'd sent him there to toughen him up and show him the ways of the world a little bit.

 

"He probably didn't know anything about me but we had a few good chats and just picked each other's brains as you do."

 

Robbie and Frank haven't bumped into each other again since lining up together with the Swans.

 

Like so many other footballing friendships, the nomadic nature of the game makes life difficult. 

 

"That's just football, players move around so much that it's impossible to keep in touch with everyone," adds the former Wolves man.

 

"I roomed with Keith Downing for six years and he's a good mate who lives within 15 minutes of me now and even then we don't see each other too often."

 

But should Frank ultimately up sticks and end up taking on the Italian Job, this "cynical old pro" would be only too glad to help him settle in.

 

"Milan," muses Robbie, "I'll have a bit of that.

 

"Tell Frank I'm just waiting for the call"

 

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