Hal Robson-kanu Sends Belgium For A Hot Dog
FourFourTwo UK|January 2017

The highlight of Wales’ wondrous Euro 2016 was their cult hero flummoxing three Belgians to secure a semi-final spot. FFT meets up with our Goal of the Year winner.

Chris Evans

Hal Robrsn-Kanual Robson-Kanu seems slightly puzzled when FourFourTwo’s photographer shares his vision for our opening shot. “You want me to hold up… a sausage?” the Wales hero asks as our snapper hands over all the ingredients to put together the perfect hot dog. Standing in his pristine-looking apartment in Warwickshire, the 27-year-old takes one look at the ketchup bottle in his right hand, and then another at the cream carpet beneath his feet. A worried expression crosses his face. “My missus isn’t going to be very happy about this – it could ruin my year if we get any on the carpet,” he jokes. Well, half-jokes.

After his other-worldly Cruyff turn to score the second of Wales’ three goals in their shock Euro 2016 quarter-final victory against Belgium, social media lit up with people celebrating Robson-Kanu for sending three Belgian players for a hot dog. Basically, he sent them all running in completely the wrong direction.

It was the crowning moment of an incredible summer, when the forward went from being an out-of-contract Championship player to the toast of Europe – before signing for West Bromwich Albion amid talk of interest from Atletico Madrid.

Best of all (probably), his strike is named FFT’s Goal of the Year, which is why he’s squirting sauce on a Frankfurter.

It could all have been so different. Having announced that he wouldn’t be renewing his contract at Reading, ending a 12-year association with the club he’d called home since the age of 15, Acton-born Robson-Kanu decided he would use the European Championship as a shop window for his talents. But with only weeks before Wales kicked off their campaign against Slovakia, Robson-Kanu snapped a tendon in his leg and faced an anxious race to be ready for the jaunt across the Channel.

“I was touch and go to be fit,” he says. “It was a tough period, because there wasn’t any guarantee I would be available in time, but I worked hard with the physios and the coaching staff in order to get back. And as history says, I was out there.”

As he leans back on a chair in his new living room, Robson-Kanu opens up on his regrets at not going all the way in France, whether he opted for Tony Pulis over Diego Simeone and how he humiliated the nation many had touted as the best in Europe.

How happy were you with your form, heading into the summer?

I’m always confident in my ability. I’d played at the top level a fair bit previously and performed well, so I knew I could do it at international level. I’d played in all 10 games in the qualifying campaign, so I knew my place in the team. The manager [Chris Coleman], his staff and the players knew what I could bring to the starting XI, so it was nice to feel valued in that sense. It was just about preparing myself as I always do and performing at that level.

What was the situation at Reading? Did they choose not to offer you a new contract, or did you decide that you were moving on?

I had been at Reading for 12 years – I’ve given a lot of my career to the club. I was happy with what I’d achieved – we had multiple promotions and some successful years, but I was just at a stage where I felt it was best for my career to move on and find a new challenge. I wanted to go somewhere I would have to push myself further, and that was the decision we made early on in the season.

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