Robbie Savage was probably not the player Martin O’Neill had in his mind to sign when he went to scout for Danny Murphy. Robbie Savage played alongside Danny Murhpy at Crewe Alexandria, and as we all know the England international to be, Murhpy ended up at Liverpool.
Crewe were on the rise and played in the play-off’s of the third tier and Martin O’Neill might have spotted the grit and determination of the former Manchester United forward, with a FA Youth Cup final winners medal in his pocket, now in the Crewe Alexandria midfield.
Martin O’Neill offered Crewe Alexandria £400.000 for the services of Robbie Savage and the move was completed in the mid summer days of 1997. After three seasons, 77 league games and 10 goals at Gresty Road it was off to the Premier League for Robbie to get his big dream come through. After being released by Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson three years earlier, it might have looked as a far away and a distant thought for the young Welsh man.
When Robbie arrived at Leicester City he was not really seen as a big signing but instantly made an impact in the first team. He had made his full debut for Wales during his days at Crewe and had that expirience that probably gave him the self-belief that he could be a certainy in the Leicester City first team.
Martin O’Neill played Robbie out on the flank at times and he didn’t complain, as MON might have seen the talent as a bit limited, but again the fighting spirit and will to win was always seen by the manager as a vital asset.
Robbie kept his place in the team and played in both the 1999 and 2000 League Cup finals v. Tottenham and Tranmere. Firstly being part of a team that lost to Spurs but the year after he picked up the winners medal.
Robbie had shown great progress and when Peter Taylor arrived to take over for MON, he gave Savage a central midfield role alongside Neil Lennon and Muzzy Izzet and the three worked wonders going top of the Premier League in October 2000.
Peter Taylor had to see a real “melt down” of his project with a number of key players including Robbie Savage missing key games in the late parts of that season ending all down on 13th place with a long run of games struggling to get points on board.
The next season got even worse and a relegation fight was on Leicester City’s hands with Peter Taylor getting sacked and Dave Bassett taking over, later it was Micky Adams that had the steering in the final games of the season. Robbie had a good contract at Leicester City and no desire to leave, even when it was clear that the relegation was real, but with a heavy wage bill at the club, it was no way that a £2million fee from Steve Bruce and Birmingham City would be turned down and in the summer of 2002 five years at Leicester City had come to an end for Robbie Savage.
Savage joined Birmingham City and during his days at St. Andrews he returned to Leicester City in the 2003/04 season, but not really showing the humbleness we would have liked when The Blues got their three points, playing 11 against 10 in most of the minutes of the game. Robbie played alongside Muzzy Izzet and Emile Heskey at Birmingham City, two of his team mates also with The Foxes.
Savage was in his early 30’s when he later joined Blackburn Rovers and probably had his best years in the game while at Ewood Park. After three seasons he joined Derby County in 2008. Ironically enough he took over the captaincy of Matt Oakley who was sold to Leicester City, but later, after a poor run of games, was ripped of the armband and did see his career in a bit of limbo, joining Brighton & Hove Albion on loan for a while, but in his return he got things back on track and regained his first team place at Derby County.
It was a time during those difficult days at Derby that he could have returned for a second time to Leicester City, who at the time were in the third tier, but it never materialized and nothing happened. He played his final game for Derby County away to Reading and got great applause from both sides which he full deserved.
Robbie is the bright example of a player that did earn his career in full getting back and up in the top flight from taking a step down and fight all the way. Something to credit and address with tons of respect.
After and during his latter years in the game he is still a familiar face around, being a well known pundit for several tv stations and other operators in the game.
- Full Name: Robert William Savage
- Position: Midfield
- Date of Birth: 18.10.1974
- Birthplace: Wrexham
- Nation: Wales
- Caps / Goals: 39/2
- Major League Career:
- 1994-97, Crewe Alexandria (77(10)
- 1997-02, Leicester City (172/8)
- 2002-05, Birmingham City (82/11)
- 2005-08, Blackburn Rovers (76/1)
- 2008-11, Derby County (124/7)