The Passing of a Blessing to Football
Sir Robert William Robson, CBE
Where do you start on one who was so positive on and off the pitch?
Player, Manager, a knight, a commander. One who transformed his experience and thought into a sport as a 'teacher', who raised a quiet side in Ipswich Town to the FA Cup famously over Arsenal, the UEFA Cup thereafter against AZ Alkmaar, the Dutch league twice consectuviely with PSV, and again in Portugal with Porto (after he was unfairly dismissed from Sporting Lisbon) and then the domestic trophies with Barcelona, as well as what is now the UEFA Cup.
He took on the mantle of his 'home' club, in Newcastle United, his boyhood team, and he made them a worthwhile competitor in the top flight of English football. I implored for him to remain there when he was passed on for Souness. And Bobby showed how much of a competitor he was off the pitch, as well as on it, in his sparring rounds with cancer. Four times that re-match occurred, and eventually Sir Bobby was defeated. But put up a fight he did, nonetheless, as such a character he was. It truly made him a gentleman, an honourable professional and a figure of football that there is clearly a rarity of right now.
Football now is a competitive arena almost as much off the pitch as on it. In fact it would seem more off it. Money has become a catalyst to some success and where would our English hopes be if the managers of the top flight teams were compelled to restrict their spending and be persuaded into nurturing more of the homegrown talent. I would think our national team would simply flourish and prosper, continental teaching (in some cases) mixed with homegrown application. That is the kind of football Sir Bobby would have an integral part of in his later managerial period.
From when he was pushed from St James' Park, instead of having to hang onto such roles as a consultant to Steve Staunton for the Republic of Ireland squad, Sir Bobby would have been better placed to bring through more of England's talent in a sophisticated national football school, something separate and yet parallel with those being taught under the tutilage of the top flight coaches. He would have cherished that role.
My fondest memories come mostly from the 1986 & 1990 escapades in the World Cup. How we made waves into the QF in Mexico, only to be out-done (still bewilderingly) by Maradona's 'Hand of God', and then further by his run for the 2nd goal. Italy, where a tearful Gascoigne had to be consoled, where an equally tearful Stuart Pearce missed, in the semi-finals.
Other tributes have stated Sir Bobby would be sorely missed. I echo that. Other than the likes of Bobby Moore, the Charlton brothers, there hasn't been a more gallant person. Thank you, Sir Bobby.