U21 Junior Robinson on learning from Steve Potts

Around east London, there are few better for Junior Robinson to learn the art of defending from than Steve Potts. Over 20 years ago, the former defender departed the Hammers after a stellar 506 first-team appearances. Now, he is back at the Club leading the U21s.

Fresh from signing a new contract until June 2026 last month, Robinson is excited to push on under the guidance of the Irons legend. Eyeing his first-team debut, the 20-year-old is more than happy to learn from a man who boasts such a storied career.

“I have been working hard on learning how to play as a full-back and it helps to have Steve as your manager,” Robinson enthused, talking about how he has switched from the more attacking role he played as a schoolboy.

“I don’t think many people understand the game better defensively than Steve and he drills that into us every day. I am near the sideline in matches and close to the coaches, so Steve is always coaching us and coaching me. Even if it is just small things, it has a huge impact on my game.”

While Robinson has enjoyed learning the defensive side of his new wing-back role, it is with possession that the young Hammer comes into his own. The take-on, he says, is his super-strength.

It is my dream to play for West Ham so it’s nice to take a step closer to that!
Junior Robinson

“I have worked on my one-on-one play a lot,” he explained, with a justified confidence. “The way we play, if you can do that then you have done your job.

“This system [with wing-backs] suits me, but I want to get to a place where I can play at the same level as either a wing-back or a full-back. It’s been good this year with the U21s because we have won a lot of matches, and on an individual level, I feel like I’m playing well and getting better at the stuff I know I need to work on.

“I think everything can be a bit better and sharper in my game. I think my crossing and my understanding of the game have come a long way as I have matured as a player this season.”

Born in Bethnal Green, and been at the Club for nearly 14 years, Robinson is well at home to continue learning at West Ham. It has been some journey, because the boyhood Hammer has played across every age group at Chadwell Heath and is now impressing at Rush Green too.

“I remember signing my pre-scholar at the Boleyn Ground,” he continued. “Then my scholarship, and my first pro-contract. I've now signed my second one [last month], so it has been a long journey, but it is about starting again and continuing to work hard.

“In my first year as a scholar, I had a couple of injuries, but that just made me hungrier to make it here and I think I have more appreciation for the game.

“I have always supported West Ham and all my friends support the Club. It is my dream to play for West Ham, so it’s nice to take a step closer to that.

“My Dad is a big West Ham fan as well, so he was really happy to see me get this contract. My friends were as well, and their reaction tells you that it is a big deal.”

With the Premier League 2 knockout play-offs on the horizon, Robinson wants to push on between now and the end of the campaign.

Yes, development football is an opportunity to impress on an individual basis, but the wing-back is adamant his side can turn this campaign into a winning one.

“It would be nice to win something this year,” he concluded. “I missed out on playing in the FA Youth Cup team last season [he was too old by a few months, although he was born in 2004 like many of the 2023 winners].

"It would be nice to win something with the U21s to round off an enjoyable season!”