THE mixed zone is the name given to the area of a football stadium where journalists and players are separated by a barrier, literally on such occasions, after the bigger games.

The players walk down one side and stop, if they can be bothered, to talk to broadcasters, radio folk and print reporters.

They tend to be busy places on Champions League nights and even the losers who must just want to get home are bombarded with requests for a chat.

Deep inside the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, media folk from all over the world, plus myself, stood side-by-side like sardines playing sardines waiting for multi-millionaires to give us their thoughts on what had just happened, which was Liverpool beating Manchester City 2-1; a famous win which took this famous club into their first European Cup semi-final for 10 years.

As the token Scot in among the thrall, I was happy enough to allow Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva to wander by without me bothering them for “a quick word.” I was here primarily to get one of our own.

Andy Robertson was one of the first Liverpool players through the doors. As me made his way down the gaggle of questioners, the Glaswegian spotted me and heard the accent, and held his hand as to say; ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get to you in a minute.” He’s that kind of guy.

Before that, the 24-year-old granted every interview request, including television reporters from Brazil, Spain, and Holland. He gave Liverpool TV some of his time, he always does apparently, and then even returned to them when they asked him to say something extra.

Of course, it’s easy to be happy and helpful when you’ve just qualified for the Champions League semi-final but James Milner, captain for the night, didn’t stop. Neither did Salah or Firmino and they scored Liverpool’s goals in their win.

“Has he always been such a nice lad?” one of the guys who covers the club asked me. I was happy to tell him yes. Robertson has been a revelation in Liverpool not only because he has been brilliant on the pitch, but away from it he’s one who is never anything other then friendly. No airs, no graces.

And he won’t change. Not even if he wins Liverpool their sixth European Cup and joins an elite group of Scots to get their hands on the trophy with the big ears.

Perhaps it’s because that, and how is this for coincidence, five years ago to the day of what was the greatest night of his career, Robertson was a 19-year-old Queen’s Park player, losing away 2-0 to Annan Athletic in the fourth tier of the Scottish senior game.

There were 242 people at the match.

“I’ll be honest, my Queen’s Park days and playing in front of small crowds, at an empty Hampden feels a long time ago now,” Robertson told me with a smile as big as the Mersey about an hour after the win over City.

“It really does seem like history to me right now but, listen, I will always remember where I came from. I won’t forget what all sorts of people did for me because you can’t do it on your own. None of this changes who I am or where I’ve come from.

“Queen’s Park is where I got the basis for my career. It’s where it began for me and I’ve only good memories. I owe them so much and tonight I’d like to thank everyone at Queen’s Park for what they did for me because without them I might not be where I am.

“There are good people at that club, they had an important influence on me and everything I experienced there has stood me in good stead. I will never forget any of that.

“Same goes for Dundee United. They took me into the Premier League, and maybe that was a gamble on their part, and it allowed me a bigger platform to show what I can do.

“Phew, this is amazing. This is the best night of my career and I hope for a couple more in the semi-finals.”

When making my way to the Etihad on Tuesday evening, I happened to walk beside a group of younger Liverpool fans who loudly were singing the name of Robertson in among their ditties about how much Manchester isn’t that nice a place to grow up.

No other player had a song. Not that I heard. They sang about Andy, Andy, Andy, Andy Robertson before and after the game as well.

They can see what he is. A fantastic player, sure, but one who will never cheat them. He will run all day, close opponents, and bomb up and down the left wing as if his life depended on it.

No wonder Robertson, allowed to leave Celtic as a kid, was given a bear hug by his manager, Jurgen Klopp, after the final whistle.

“It’s an incredible feeling to hear fans sing your name at any game, whether it be 200 at Queen’s Park or 50,000 at Anfield,” said the Kop’s new hero. “Okay, it’s maybe a wee bit different at Liverpool.

“Our fans over the legs were magnificent. They really helped us, a real spur to victory and so a thank you to every single one of them. They have been great with me and I all I want to do is repay them.

“This is an amazing football club. You think you know how big Liverpool is but you have to be here to understand just how huge it all is, and what it means to the people.

“On a personal level, this season has been unbelievable. To come to such an amazing club, to find my feet after a while and then play the majority of games is a great feeling. I just have to keep going. We have a big run-in until the end of the season, a lot of huge games for us, and we hope to finish on the highest note we can.

“When I think of the Champions League I think about Zinedine Zidane’s goal at Hampden. So, it’s a bit surreal thinking I could play in a game as big as that.”

He added: “To help  Liverpool win a sixth European Cup would be incredible. There are lessons to be learned from these games. We began to slow against City, sat too deep and weren’t getting to the second balls. That had to change and we did that from the start of the second-half.

“We played really well after half-time and we deserved to go through. To win 3-0 at Anfield obviously set us up. Mo comes up with another goal and from then on we controlled the game against a brilliant team.

“Whoever we get it’s going to be difficult. Barcelona are out but Roma are obviously a great team. To be honest, who we get, we get.”

Andy Robertson should be proud of himself and we, in turn, should be proud of him. He’s doing just fine.