Born in Accra, Ghana, Robbie Russell has lived in four different continents (Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe) over the course of his life. He moved to the United States with his family as a teenager in 1993, settling in Amherst, Massachusetts and going to Amherst High School. He then played college soccer at Duke University from 1997 to 2001.
Russell was a standout at Duke University, a key member of the 1999 ACC Championship squad, and was named a Second Team All-American following his junior and senior seasons. He was also a member of All-ACC Teams during each of his four seasons in Durham and served as team captain during the last two seasons. He has been inducted into the Amherst High School Hall of Fame, the Duke University Hall of Fame, and was listed in the ACC top 50 best players of all time.
Russell turned professional in 2001 and spent one season at Icelandic club, Breiðablik. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer but opted to try his fortunes overseas. He joined Sogndal of the Norwegian Premier League, where he established himself as one of the best right backs in Norway. This fact was confirmed when Rosenborg BK, also from Norway, made a move for him in 2004. Russell became a starter at right back in his first season with Rosenborg BK (including multiple starts for the team in the UEFA Champions League qualifying and group stages) and helped the team win its 19th and 20th league titles. In July 2006, Russell moved to Viborg FF of the Danish Superliga. His debut for Viborg FF resuted in a 3-1 defeat at Aalborg BK.
In July 2008, Russell ended his Scandinavian sojourn by signing with Real Salt Lake, where fellow Duke University alumnus, Jason Kreis, was the coach.
On November 23, 2009, Russell scored the game-winning goal of the 2009 MLS Cup in the seventh round of a penalty kick shoot-out. The goal gave Real Salt Lake their first MLS championship.
Russell was traded to D.C. United in 2011 for a third-round pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, which became a first-round pick in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft when the SuperDraft was shortened.
Although Russell never earned a cap for the United States national team, he was called to national team camps as an option for the right back position.
Russell announced his retirement from professional soccer on May 15, 2013. He began classes in June 2013 at Georgetown University’s Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Certificate Program. In August 2015, he enrolled at the George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He is now entering his fourth and final year before applying for residency in Emergency Medicine.
Russell currently lives in Virginia with his wife and two sons, spending days between studying medicine and playing soccer in the backyard with his boys.