Posted by Barrie on Friday, 31 July 2009

Sir Bobby Robson - A Footballing Gentleman

Just 5 days ago, England beat Germany in a charity game at St James' Park for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. The footballing legend was given a great ovation by the 33,000 strong crowd and honoured with a UEFA lifetime achievement award before kickoff.

Sir Bobby Robson was one of the most-loved English football faces in the world, down to his success and personality. The County Durham-born former Fulham and West Brom player was known for his love of the game and his respectful and gentlemanly attitude that was always on show.

As a manager, he made a name for himself with Ipswich Town, who he joined in 1969, with whom he turned into a regular top 6 side, include twice runners up in the then First Division (now the Premier League), winning the 1978 FA Cup final (1-0 over Arsenal) and 1981 UEFA Cup 5-4 over AZ Alkmaar). Ipswich Town paid tribute to Robson's success in 2002 when they unveiled a lifesize statue of him outside their Portman Road ground.

Robson left Ipswich for England in the summer of 1982 after their second round World Cup exit. Failing to qualify for the 1984 European Championships, Robson offered his resignation in favour of Brian Clough which was turned down by the FA. His reign would last 8 more years, which would see his England side defeated by Argentina in the 1986 World Cup quarter finals with the aid of Diego Maradona's hand, finishing bottom of their group in Euro 88, and then their infamous 1990 World Cup semi final penalty shootout defeat to West Germany. This effort means Robson has taken England the closest to a World Cup final since 1966.

Following his long reign as England manager, Robson enjoyed success on the continent, winning trophies with PSV Eindhoven, FC Porto and Barcelona, whilst also having a short spell at Sporting Lisbon. Bobby Robson's last spell as manager came at Newcastle United, from 1999 to 2004, where he guided the team to to 3rd and 4th finishing positions; something the club never got close to doing after his departure in 2004.

Bobby Robson was a true honour to the game, and this has been shown in numerous awards presented to him outside of football, including a CBE and Knighthood for his services to football. No one had a bad word to say about Bobby's personality, and some top men in the footballing world have paid their tributes already:

"I mourn the passing of a great friend, a wonderful individual, a tremendous football man and somebody with passion and knowledge of the game that was unsurpassed." Sir Alex Ferguson

"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" Jose Mourinho (Robson's interpretor at Sporting Lisbon, FC Porto and Barcelona)

"He will be sadly missed by everyone, not just by people in the football world but from all walks of life" Alan Shearer (whom played under Robson at Newcastle)

"He was a huge inspiration to me as a player and he continued to be a mentor to me throughout my managerial career. Football has lost a legend and I have lost the man to whom I owe my career." George Burley (whom played under Robson at Ipswich)

Today has seen the loss of a legend in the football world.

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