Tributes to Sir Bobby: 'He was like a father, I'll never forget him'
Sunday 02 August 2009
Leading figures from the world of football and politics continued to pay tribute to Sir Bobby Robson yesterday after his death at the age of 76 following a long battle with cancer.
Fellow managers, his former players, Prime Ministers past and present, and the presidents of Fifa and Uefa were among those saluting his life and achievements. Here is a selection of the tributes paid to one of the game's most respected and popular figures.
Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United manager)
"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."
Paul Gascoigne (former England midfielder)
"I'm speechless. I'm devastated. Bobby was like my second dad. I was like a son to him. I can't describe how much he meant to me. I've just been crying for three hours, and I've come to see my mum and my dad. It's just unbelievable. He gave me a chance to play in the World Cup. I love him. And his wife Elsie – I'll always be there for her. I'm sort of numb."
Bryan Robson (former England captain)
"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."
Gordon Brown (Prime Minister)
"I was extremely saddened to hear of the death of Sir Bobby. 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. Over the past few years, he fought cancer with his characteristic tenacity and good humour."
Jose Mourinho (Internazionale manager)
"Bobby Robson is one of those people who never die, not so much for what he did in his career, but for what he knew to give to those who had, like me, the good fortune to know him and walk by his side."
George Burley (Scotland manager)
"Sir Bobby was like a father to me, taking a personal interest in me right from the start [at Ipswich], always checking whether I was happy. His support and enthusiasm were 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 happened to be George Best. We lost 3-0 but Sir Bobby was magnificent, telling me how well I'd played. It did wonders for my confidence."
Fabio Capello (England manager)
"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 – but always as 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."
An extraordinary life
Playing Signed for Fulham in 1950 and became the first player to negotiate an "image rights deal". He was paid three guineas for appearing on cigarette cards. He won 20 caps for England, including at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. He moved to West Bromwich Albion, before returning to Craven Cottage for a second spell.
Managing Brief spells in charge of Vancouver Royals and Fulham preceded a success-laden 13 years at Ipswich, with the highlights being victory in the 1978 FA Cup final and the 1981 Uefa Cup final. Appointed England manager in 1982, he led them to the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup, where they were beaten by Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal. His finest hour came at the 1990 World Cup when he guided England to a semi-final against West Germany – and a heartbreaking defeat on penalties. He left the job after the tournament, with a record of 47 wins, 30 draws and 18 defeats. Spells with PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona came before an emotional return to Newcastle in 1999 and top-four finishes in 2002 and 2003. He was sacked in 2004. His final job was a consultancy role to Steve Staunton with the Republic of Ireland.
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