Robinson quit West Brom last year following their relegation.
Di Matteo insists he fully understood and sympathised with Robinson's predicament at the time, even though his timing was perhaps not ideal.
"I didn't work with him for long," Di Matteo told the Birmingham Mail. "On the first day I met him I went 'hi Robbo' and he basically said 'Yeah, gaffer I want to leave'.
"I said 'I'm pleased to meet you too, come and see me after training'. That was our introduction!
"He's said sorry about it since then but I think it was just his strong belief he wanted to play in the Premier League.
"It was the same with Jonno (Jonathan Greening) as well. He wanted to stay in the Premier League."