A gentleman and a gentle man

Sir Bobby Robson CBE

After a long battle with cancer, Bobby Robson passed away this morning.

There’s not much to say that hasn’t already been said elsewhere, but I will just note a summary of his achievements below.

18 years a player, including 20 England caps.

13 years as manager of Ipswich Town, winning both the 1978 FA Cup and the 1981 UEFA Cup.

Manager of the England national side for eight years. Remains one of only two men to have led England to a World Cup semi-final. At the helm for two of the national team’s most memorable World Cup defeats: the 1986 quarter-final against Argentina, which saw Diego Maradona‘s controversial ‘Hand of God’ goal, and the 1990 semi-final against West Germany, remembered by all for Gazza‘s tears and an emotional penalty shootout.

One of a tiny handful of English managers to enjoy success outside the British Isles, with stints in charge of PSV Eindhoven (twice), Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona, before returning to take charge of his beloved Newcastle United from 1999 to 2004.

Winner of the Dutch league title with PSV in 1991 and 1992, and the Portuguese title with Porto in 1995 and 1996.

Led Barcelona to three trophies, including a European Cup Winners’ Cup triumph in 1997. While there, mentored a young Portuguese named Jose Mourinho.

Mere facts and statistics do not come close to telling the full story, though. Robson was a hugely respected manager and a man utterly without enemies. And his paternal smile concealed a man of immense strength; a man who, sadly, wilted away before our eyes as the effects of cancer took a cumulative toll. I watched his last public appearance for the tribute match in his name at St James’ Park last Sunday and saw an emaciated fighter nearing the end; I had no idea quite how near. His passing will be mourned by all football fans.

Farewell, Sir Bobby. You were in every respect a gentleman and a gentle man. Football is a poorer place today without you.


About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

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