A tribute to Sir Bobby: Five of the best on anniversary of his passing
It is exactly five years to the day since national icon Sir Bobby Robson’s passing at the age of 76, so Coral writers have prepared a special tribute for an extraordinary man in recognition of his five best footballing moments.
After an accomplished playing career, gaining 20 England caps and hundreds of appearances for Fulham and West Brom as an inside forward, he is more fondly recognised for his achievements as a manager. He was in charge of the likes of Ipswich Town, PSV, Sporting Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona, Newcastle United and England over 35 memorable years.
World Cup semi-finals with England
Italia 90 is the finals many Three Lions fans from a newer generation remember, with England achieving their best feat on the world stage since their triumph in 1966. A fourth-place finish, after only losing to eventual champions Germany on penalties in the semis, forever put Robson into English folklore.
No one who saw that World Cup can forget the touchline joy of Robson in the round of 16, when David Platt’s late extra time winner saw off Belgium.
It is without doubt that after the likes of Paul Gascoigne, Gary Lineker, John Barnes et al came home heroes, their achievements inspired a boom in popularity of the sport back home, which ultimately lead to the Premiership being formed in 1992.
FA Cup and UEFA Cup with Ipswich Town
Robson’s managerial career really came into its own prior to taking on the England job, though. He was in charge of Ipswich for more than 13 years, from 1968-1982, and managed to win three trophies in that time.
While the first few campaigns with Robson as boss were fairly unimpressive, he led the Tractor Boys to a top six finish in nine out of 10 seasons – except one year when they lifted the FA Cup in 1978 – including being runners-up twice.
All three trophies Robson won, the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and now-defunct Texaco Cup, have never before or since been obtained by Ipswich. In recognition of his efforts for the club, a statue was unveiled outside the Suffolk side’s Portman Road stadium in 2002.
The Durham-born man was so great he was immortalised twice, with another statue of the icon erected outside Newcastle’s St James’ Park ground in 2012, in credit to his five memorable years at the northeast club.
Robson got off to a great start, thrashing Sheffield Wednesday 8-0 in his first home match, and finished the campaign bettering the previous season’s final position. In later years, he propelled the club up the table, securing Champions League qualifying football in the process.
But it was in the UEFA Cup where he impressed most, leading the Magpies to the semis and quarter-finals in successive years, getting them agonisingly close to winning their first major trophy since the FA Cup in 1955.
Jose Mourinho, Pepe Guardiola, Andre Villas-Boas, Luis Enrique. What do these prominent managerial talents all have in common? They have all worked under Sir Bobby in some sort of capacity, and have all acknowledged their success is in part due to Robson.
Mourinho, who was famously a translator for Robson at Barcelona and Porto, once said: “I will keep with me always the Bobby Robson of every day, a person who had extraordinary passion for life and for football, with an extraordinary enthusiasm.
“Bobby Robson is one of those people who will never die, not just for what he did in his career but for everything that he gave to those who, like me, were lucky to know him and walk by his side.”
New Barca boss Enrique and current Bayern Munich manager Guardiola, meanwhile, both played under Robson in the Englishman’s one-year trophy-laden spell at the Nou Camp, and have spoken highly of him on numerous occasions.
Robson even helped former Chelsea, Tottenham and Porto head coach Villas-Boas take his first footsteps into management, by recruiting him as a teenager as one of his youth team’s coaching staff.
Bringing through stars
It was Robson who brought Brazilian great and former World Cup record scorer Ronaldo to Barcelona, and thus took him to new heights in 1996. The duo spent one year at the Nou Camp, before going their separate ways, but Ronaldo remembers his time with his former boss with great fondness.
“It makes me feel happy to hear how highly Sir Bobby talked about me because he’s a legend of football,” the Brazilian said. “I’m proud to have worked with him. He was an awesome coach and an awesome person. He was like a father to me.
“I have had a lot of managers in football but the difference between all of them and Sir Bobby was his humanity and the relationships he had with the players. He was always like a father to everyone.”
Other prominent players of the game that Robson has brought through or guided include Terry Butcher, George Burley and Alan Brazil at Ipswich. He is also credited in resurrecting the career of fellow Newcastle legend Alan Shearer.
It really is remarkable the legacy Robson has left to the sport of football, not only to England, but across the world. Loved, respected and forever remembered by all.