- Robinson recalls heartfelt interaction
- USMNT knocked Iran out of World Cup
- Match carried meaning beyond the pitch
WHAT HAPPENED? In a closely-contested game with qualification to the World Cup knockout stages a possibility for both sides, Robinson and the United States men's national team secured passage into the last 16 at the expense of Iran through a 1-0 win. After the full-time whistle, Robinson embraced Rezaeian, and he said they briefly interacted via phone later.
Iran players competed at the World Cup with the backdrop of protests sweeping the streets back home, and a match against a geopolitical rival further intensified the emotions of the group stage game. But Robinson and Rezaeian disregarded those outside forces in their interaction.
WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking to The Guardian, Robinson said: "I had more of an embrace with [Rezaeian] and I was telling him: ‘You’ve made your family, your loved ones and your country proud.’ I didn’t see it that I’m American and he’s Iranian. He was just another lad who had just battled against me for 90 minutes."
He revealed that Rezaeian messaged him after the game, which he described as a "nice touch," and added: "They obviously took risks [politically] that my players didn’t have to take. We don’t face the same penalties. I’m not going to pretend I know the ins and outs of Iran but I do know they’re standing up against something that gives them far more consequences than I’ve ever faced. I can only commend them for being there for their people.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Iran finished third in Group B with three points, earned by defeating Wales.
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty ImagesGetty ImagesGetty
WHAT NEXT FOR ROBINSON? After getting knocked out in the last 16 by the Netherlands, Robinson, or 'Jedi' as he is known by teammates, quickly got back focused on helping Fulham to as high a finish as possible in the Premier League, having put together a sensational return campaign thus far.