The answers of Robert Lynch Sánchez (Cartagena, 23 years old) do not confirm a rookie who may be weighed down by his first call for the senior section despite having a background of only 18 games defending the goal of Brighton & Hove Albion of the Premier League. Nor does it seem to affect him to be a stranger to the vast majority of Spanish fans. “I have prepared myself for this all my life, to take advantage of the opportunities that, just as they come, go away,” he warns with supine assurance. His landing in the elite, as surprising as spectacular since his debut in November against Tottenham, sparked for weeks a race between the Spanish and English federation (the goal has British nationality by residence) to recruit him. With seven clean sheets and superb performances against Manchester City and Arsenal, his phone was abuzz with congratulations and also with proposals to capture him. The draw against Greece (1-1) and the hasty victory against Georgia (1-2) do not favor a priori the context for its international debut. At first, only a defeat to Kosovo could lead to Luis Enrique giving him a few minutes and thus close the possibility that England would continue to insist on having his services, although he has no doubts. “After my first games with Brighton Molina called me [director deportivo de la federación española] and he told me that I was doing very well, to keep it up because there could be something in the future. A week before the call, Luis Enrique called me again. The English called me a couple of times, but I was clear that I wanted to play for Spain, “he says.
His decision to leave the Levante quarry at the age of 15 and embark on the English adventure led to his growth and development being off the radar of the lower categories of the Spanish national team and clubs. So much so that Luis Enrique had to request information about his past. “A scout from Brighton heard about me and was following me. He made me the offer and I went there for two weeks to see the club and the facilities. With Chelsea there was also something, but Brighton convinced me more. The first two years were tough, my family made great efforts and came to see me when they could. I relied a lot on a Spaniard, Luis García, who was like a brother, but then he went to Seville and is now in America. Not all of us arrived, but I always say that football is upside down in training, attitude and a bit of luck ”.
Bob, as he is called in England, doesn’t like to dwell on the past too much. He vaguely recalls going down in his pajamas from the Levante residence to the training camps to ask Juan Luis Mora, goalkeeper coach at the Granota academy, to let him train (“I’ve always wanted to be a learning sponge,” he says ) or that it was known as the terror of the tetrabrik because he consumed liters of milk as if they were water. “If they say it, it will be like that, but I live day by day, the past is past and the future has to be worked on.”
Before joining Brighton’s first team, Robert Sánchez was on loan to Green Forest in Ligue Two (4th Division) and Rochdale (3rd). “They are complicated leagues, but they are the ones that have built me as a goalkeeper. There is a lot of physical contact and you need to be prepared. At first the passing game cost me a bit, but because of my height [1,97 metros] I have always been active and aggressive in the starts ”. For the demanding footwork that Luis Enrique demands from goalkeepers, he claims to be trained: “We goalkeepers have been working on footwork for a long time, I don’t think it’s a problem because I’m also ambidextrous.”
In this construction of the goalkeeper he has become, the contribution of Ben Roberts, one of the most prestigious goalkeeper trainers in English football, has been decisive. Roberts’s résumé includes polishing international Nick Pope (Burnley), tall (1.98 meters) and similar characteristics. “Ben Roberts has done everything possible to make me the goalkeeper that I am. He has given me tough love that we need sometimes. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. He has helped me grow as a person and mature, he has built me. It has given me more cane than others so that I realize that it is better not to do a bad thing, even a small thing, than to do it. He has even taught me how to communicate with my teammates depending on whether we are at the beginning or at the end of a match ”. Under the supervision of Ben Roberts, the day to day has been intensive. “I have done extra work after each training and the days off, if I could go, I also went to ask him questions about technique, movements to improve”, abounds about the coach whom he considers “a second father”.
Of his life in Brighton, he says that he only breaks with training and playing routines when he practices one of his passions. “I like mountain biking and I go out with a couple of friends. I also walk on the beach with my girl, but I don’t bathe because the water is freezing, ”he says. And on how to cope with the lights, he is clear: “Because of the position in which I play, I need to be balanced, I don’t like highs or lows. I prefer to stay in the middle ”.