Sir Bobby Robson, the most successful England manager since 1966, died at home today at the age of 76.
The Prime Minister and Prince William joined the world of football in paying tribute to one of the most popular men in the game, who finally succumbed to a fifth bout of cancer early this morning. Sir Bobby was best-loved for guiding England to the semi final of the 1990 World Cup, a tournament that led the sport’s charge into mainstream British culture. Gordon Brown said today: “His passion, patriotism, dedication and professionalism knew no equal during his time both as a player and a manager.”
Sir Bobby was a moderately successful international player in the 1950s but his wit and determination helped him to become one of the most well-respected managers in European football. In his later years, affectionately known as Uncle Bobby, he was a sage to younger managers including Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson. As a club manager in England, Sir Bobby’s most celebrated spells came at Ipswich Town, where he won the Uefa Cup, and Newcastle United.
The current Newcastle squad held a minute’s silence for him today and laid wreathes in the centre circle of St James’ Park, the site of his final public appearance this weekend. Sir Bobby, in a wheelchair, was accompanied by more than 30,000 Geordies at a match in the stadium on Sunday night which raised money for his anti-cancer charity, the Bobby Robson Foundation. Before the game he was given a guard of honour by players from the 1990 England World Cup squad and a Germany XI. One of those players was Paul Gascoigne, the star of England’s run to the last four at Italia 90, who famously broke down in tears during the semi final. Gascoigne said: “Sir Bobby is a legend over the world. It was quite heartbreaking to see him that way.”
Sir Bobby was born in 1933 in the village of Sacriston, County Durham, the son of a miner who missed only one shift in 51 years of work. He began his football career while still at school in Langley Park, Durham. As a player, he signed for Fulham in 1950 and went on to play for West Bromwich Albion and England. However, he was better known as a coach, not just in England but all over Europe. He was voted European manager of the year in 1997 after winning three trophies in a single season at Barcelona where Mourinho was his assistant. The Portuguese manager said: “It is difficult to accept such a person is no longer with us – but he is immortal because he leaves in everybody who knows him a mark of his personality. A great coach but, more than that, a great person.”
In Ipswich, the site of his first managerial triumph, the club lowered the flags over Portman Road to half mast this afternoon. Simon Clegg, the chief executive of Ipswich Town Football Club said: “Sir Bobby was held in the highest esteem within the local community and in particular by generations of supporters of this football club and will be greatly missed by all.”
He married Elsie in 1955 and leaves three sons. His fifth diagnosis of cancer, which revealed that the disease had reached both his lungs, was confirmed as terminal in February 2007.
a great loss to football world. article from TimesOnline.