It is with great sadness that one of the true great men of football passed away peacefully yesterday in his sleep. The word legend is often one that is overused, in Sir Bobby’s case, it fits the man exactly.
Respected worldwide by players, coaches and fans, Sir Bobby Robson was held in the highest regard. His passion for the game was unequaled, his desire to succeed unsurpassed, yet he remained a true gentleman. You would be hard pushed to find anyone with a bad word to say about Sir Bobby.
A career that took him to the upper echelons of European football, Sir Bobby took Ipswich Town from a sleepy East Anglian family club, to a dominant force in Europe. At Barcelona he got the best out of Ronaldo and mentored Jose Mourinho. He won league titles with PSV Eindhoven and Porto and was remarkably successful at Sporting Lisbon. One of Sir Bobby’s greatest football achievements however was taking England to a World Cup semi-final at Italia 1990. The furthest England had ever been since Sir Alf Ramsey when they won it in 1966 and the furthest they have been to-date.
Described as a footballing pioneer, Sir Bobby returned to his beloved Newcastle in 1999, saving them from relegation and leading them to consecutive Champions League appearances. Newcastle were a top six club for three years in a row until a spate of bad results saw Sir Bobby sacked in 2004. To many, this was the start of the downfall to which Newcastle United now find themselves (and I’m inclined to agree).
Ultimately, as courageous as Sir Bobby was, there was one opponent which got the better of him. Having fought cancer four times and won, Sir Bobby was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.
Fittingly, his last public appearance was at St. James’s Park on Sunday July 26th, 2009 for a charity match which brought together the two teams of the 1990 World Cup semi-final. Looking frail and in his wheelchair, Sir Bobby was smiling from ear to ear. One can only imagine the pain he was in – but, he was proud to be in front of his people, the Geordies, to whom he gave so much and continues to do so despite his passing.
On a call in radio show yesterday, a quote that will most likely sum up the Geordie people and Sir Bobby was spoken:
He didn’t lose his battle with cancer. He won 4-1.
There’s only one, Bobby Robson… one Bobby Robson
Walking along, singing a song, walking in a Robson wonderland.
Gan canny bonnie lad.