Modern football can be a bitter and unforgiving place. Sir Bobby Robson, who died yesterday, was a perfect antidote to that. He was a fount of humour and enthusiasm throughout his long career as a player and manager. And when he, inevitably, found himself on the rough end of some shabby treatment, as when he was fired by Newcastle in 2004, he conducted himself with immense dignity.
Nor was Sir Bobby some benign mascot for the game. He won silverware across Europe, first with Ipswich, and later PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona. And, of course, he took England further in a World Cup campaign than any manager since Sir Alf Ramsey. Sir Bobby was respected across Europe for his talents and achievements – as testified by the range of tributes that were paid yesterday.
The beautiful game is no less beautiful for Sir Bobby's passing, but it is, alas, a little greyer and a little colder. He was a true hero of our time.