Football honours Sir Bobby Robson

Sir Bobby Robson
Robson has earned admiration from around the football world

Leading figures from football have paid tribute to Sir Bobby Robson after his death at the age of 76 following a long battle with cancer.

Robson was a renowned and revered figure in football and led England to the World Cup semi-finals at Italia 90, where his side were agonisingly beaten on penalties by West Germany.

As a player, the wing-half had spells at Fulham and West Brom, while also winning 20 England caps.

He successfully moved into management, taking charge at Fulham, Ipswich, PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Porto, Barcelona and Newcastle in his coaching career.

Here, the football fraternity leads the tributes to Robson.

MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER SIR ALEX FERGUSON

Nobody had Robson’s passion – Ferguson

“I was never too big or proud to ask him for advice which he gave freely and unconditionally. And I’m sure I am speaking for a lot of people when I say that.

“In my 23 years working in England there is not a person I would put an inch above Bobby Robson. 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.

“His character was hewn out of the coal face, developed by the Durham mining background that he came from. His parents instilled in him the discipline and standards which forged the character of a genuinely colossal human being. He added his own qualities to that which then he passed on to his sons.

“The strength and courage he showed over the past couple of years when battling against his fifth bout of cancer was indescribable. Always a smile, always a friendly word with never a mention of his own problems.

“The world, not just the football world, will miss him. Let’s hope it won’t be long before another like him turns up because we could never get enough of them.”

FORMER ENGLAND CAPTAIN BRYAN ROBSON

Bryan Robson

“He called me his Captain Marvel and it stuck for the rest of my playing career. It made me very proud but it was only typical of the respect he earned from myself and the rest of the dressing room.

“I have never come across anybody with such a passion for football. We had a tremendous personal relationship as manager and skipper.

“Any criticism he had of a player was kept very private and publicly he gave all of us his total backing.

“We stayed pretty close even towards the end and, along with many other friends, I enjoyed his company in Portugal playing in his Golf Classic. He will be missed by everybody who knew him.”

SCOTLAND MANAGER GEORGE BURLEY

George Burley

“It was a big decision for me and my parents to make such a long journey at that age,” said Burley, who played under Robson after leaving his home in Ayrshire to join Ipswich as a 15-year-old.

“But Sir Bobby was like a father to me, taking a personal interest in me right from the start, always checking whether I was happy. His support and enthusiasm was the perfect cure for homesickness and helped my career to get off the ground and thrive.

“I’ll never forget when in 1973, the day before we played Manchester United at Old Trafford, he took me to one side and told me I would be making my first-team debut. I was 17 and the player I had to mark just happened to be George Best.

“My parents came down from Scotland to watch the game and I remember him getting off the team bus and presenting them with two directors’ box tickets. We lost 3-0 but Sir Bobby was magnificent, telling me how well I’d played. It did wonders for my confidence.

606: YOUR TRIBUTES
GeordiO_1981

“I went on to play over 500 games for Ipswich in a side that drew inspiration from its manager. From 1972 we qualified for European competitions nine out of 10 years which was remarkable considering the size of our squad and our standing as a small-town club.

“That was all down to his man-management, tactics and judgement. No finer example of that was when, after we won the FA Cup, he sold Brian Talbot to Arsenal for £450,000 and spent less than that to bring in that fabulous Dutch pair Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen.

“I could not possibly get my head round how my career would have gone had it not been for Sir Bobby Robson. I owe him everything and I only hope I can be guided by the example he showed me.”

ENGLAND MANAGER FABIO CAPELLO

Fabio Capello

“Sir Bobby was a wonderful man, a real gentleman. I remember very well the times I managed my teams against him.

“The first time being when Bobby was manager of Barcelona and I was in my first season with Real Madrid. Later, when he was Newcastle manager and I was with Roma we faced each other – as opponents, but always friends.

“Of course, I recall Bobby as a manager with Ipswich, but more so with England. To manage the national team for so long was a remarkable achievement, and we all remember how close he came to leading England to the World Cup Final in Italy.

“He went on to enjoy success with PSV Eindhoven, Porto, Sporting Lisbon and Barcelona before returning to ‘home’ with Newcastle.

“Earlier this year I spent some time with Bobby when he opened the new cancer treatment centre, for which he worked so hard to raise funds. He was a fantastic man, and loved by so many people. His spirit and courage was incredible. To fight cancer so many times really showed the strength of the man.

“All the time we spoke over a cup of coffee with his close family, his passion for football shone through.

“He loved the game and was extremely proud of his country and the North East region.

“I also recall the tribute dinner the LMA [League Managers’ Association] hosted for Bobby when he wasn’t planning to say more than a few words. In the end he stayed on the stage for a very long time, telling story after story, much to everyone’s amusement.

“It’s extremely sad that Sir Bobby has lost his final fight against cancer, but he will never be forgotten. He really was a great man.”

FORMER NEWCASTLE CHAIRMAN FREDDY SHEPHERD

Freddy Shepherd

“It’s very sad, especially on Tyneside. The whole of Tyneside will be grieving. Sir Bobby Robson was a great man and will be sorely missed.

“I worked with him for five years every day. He was certainly the best manager I ever worked with at Newcastle. He never put me under pressure and always tried to see my side.

“He wouldn’t put up with fools and didn’t take any nonsense. He came across as a very kind guy but underneath was very tough. He thought about football 24 hours a day and he would ring me at all hours of the day and never stopped thinking about football.”

BARCELONA CLUB STATEMENT

Barcelona

“Barcelona is in mourning. During his period with the club, Robson won the affection of all Cules (Barca supporters). He is a true legend of world football.”

INTER MILAN BOSS JOSE MOURINHO

Jose Mourinho

“Bobby Robson is one of those people who never die, not so much for what he did in his career, for one victory more or less, but for what he knew to give to those who had, like me, the good fortune to know him and walk by his side,” said Mourinho, who was Robson’s assistant at Barcelona.

“My thoughts and embraces go to all his loved ones.”

FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT PRINCE WILLIAM

Prince William

“I am deeply saddened to hear about Sir Bobby Robson’s death.

“His contribution to English football as a player, manager and superb ambassador for our national game has been immense.

“He will be sadly missed by football fans everywhere, and I am thinking about his family at this difficult time.”

PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN

Prime minister Gordon Brown

“I was extremely saddened to hear of the death of Sir Bobby Robson. I had the privilege of meeting Bobby on many occasions. He epitomised everything that is great about football in this country.

“His passion, patriotism, dedication and professionalism knew no equal during his time both as a player and a manager.

“His remarkable achievements as manager of Ipswich Town and then of England are among the most distinguished in English football history, and he was able to replicate that extraordinary success during his time at PSV Eindhoven, Porto and Barcelona.

“Over the past few years, he fought cancer with his characteristic tenacity and good humour.

“He will be sorely missed – not only in Newcastle and Ipswich, both of whom he served with such devotion, but by all sports fans in our country. My sincere condolences go to his wife Elsie and his family.”

FORMER ENGLAND AND BARCELONA BOSS TERRY VENABLES

Terry Venables

“It is a really sad day. He has always been a fighter and he has really fought everything that has been thrown at him but he has just run out of luck this time.

“We came across each other many times whether on ITV for World Cups, or playing against each other – we go back that far.

“You just thought he was indestructible and he would get over everything, but of course it comes to everybody. He has been suffering for a while and he has shown great bravery and always in a dignified fashion.

“He has been a credit to everybody, he has been a credit to his country, his family and himself. I spoke to him five weeks ago on the phone and he was as you imagine to be, still talking about football and he was trying hard to battle away.”

FORMER ENGLAND MANAGER GRAHAM TAYLOR

Graham Taylor

“I first met Bobby in the very early ’70s when I was a young manager at Lincoln City, just finding my way.

“I met him on a coaching course at Lilleshall. From that meeting, he invited myself to spend a day with him at Ipswich to see what he was doing, what he was trying to do.

“He was so enthusiastic. For a manager to do that for a young manager now, you don’t get that too often. So I owe Bobby Robson a lot.”

FORMER ENGLAND MANAGER SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON

Sven-Goran Erikkson

“First of all he was beyond football a great man, one of the kindest people I ever met.

“He helped me a great deal when I was a young coach and I visited him in Ipswich. He took me, an unknown coach from Sweden, down into the dug-out and explained the tactics.

“The year after Ipswich won the Uefa Cup, my team Gothenburg won it and he came and presented the trophy to me.

“When I became coach of England I called him many times and he was always generous with his advice and helpful.

“It seems he was as friendly to everybody as he was to me. In fact for me, he was the special one.”

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