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Bobby Robson

West Bromwich Albion FC

20 appearances, 4 goals

P 20 W 11 D 7 L 2 F 62: A 23
73% successful


captain: none
minutes played:


  Sir Robert William Robson CBE
Birth 18 February 1933 in 28 George Street, Langley Park, county Durham [registered in Chester-le-Street, March 1933]. To Philip George and Lilian (née Watt). Fourth of five sons (Thomas, Philip, Ronald and Keith), brought up in Langley Park. Attended Waterhouses School.
  Bobby's father, Philip, was living at 14 George Street in Langley Park in 1911, with his parents, Bobby's grandparents, Philip and Emily. Philip was the third of seven children.
And according to the 1939 Register, Robert, along with his family, were living at 28 George Street. His father is a coal mine hewer.
  According to passenger lists, Robson was part of a group of Fulham FC footballers that left Liverpool, bound for Quebec, on 15 May 1951, on board the Empress of Scotland, under the mastership of E.A. Shergold.
Marriage to Elsie M. Gray, on 22 June 1955 at St. Michael's Church, Esh [registered in Durham Central, June 1955]. Three sons, Andrew, Paul and Mark.
Died: 31 July 2009, at his home in county Durham, aged 76 years 163 days, following a long battle with lung cancer.
Private Funeral Service held on 5 August 2009 at St Michael's Church in Esh, buried at Langley Park cemetery, county Durham (left).
Memorial Service held on 21 September 2009 at Durham Cathedral, beamed to TV screens at St James' Park, Craven Cottage and Ipswich town centre.  Attended by Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton, Fabio Capello, Sven Goran-Eriksson, Graham Taylor, Steve McClaren, Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne and upto a thousand others made up the congregation.
Height/Weight 5' 9½", 11st. 10lbs [1960].


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990], Bobby Robson's Farewell but not Goodbye [2004] & FindMyPast.com

Biographies Time on the Grass - Bobby Robson (Arthur Baker 1982)
An Autobiography - Bobby Robson
(Hutchinson 1990)
An Englishman Abroad - Bobby Robson and Bob Harris
(Macmillan 1998)
Sir Bobby Robson: Living the Game - Bob Harris
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2004)
Farewell but not Goodbye - Bobby Robson
(Hodder & Stoughton, London 2005)
Newcastle: My Kind of Toon - Bobby Robson (Hodder & Stoughton, London 2008)

x. - A Football Compendium, Peter J. Seddon (1999).

Club Career

Club(s) A wing half and inside forward who started playing football with Waterhouses School and had amateur schoolboy forms with Middlesbrough FC, also Chester-le-Street FC juniors and Langley Park FC juniors. Despite being offered a contract to play for Middlesbrough FC and interest from Newcastle United FC, Robson signed for Fulham FC in May 1950, making 152 league appearances, scoring 68 times, before transferring to West Bromwich Albion FC in March 1956 for an Albion record transfer fee of £25,000 where he would make another 239 league appearances, scoring 56 times, becoming club captain. He returned to Fulham FC in August 1962 for £20,000 for a higher salary and another 192 league appearances followed, scoring only nine times. With interest from Arsenal FC, and an offer who became the player-manager of Southend United FC, Robson became the inaugural player/coach of Vancouver Royals FC in Canada from May 1967 to January 1968 in the United Soccer Association.
Club honours "In all my time as a footballer, I didn't win a thing." - R.W.Robson
Individual honours Football League (five appearances). Represented London in 1955.


Douglas Lammings' An English Football Internationalist Who's Who [1990] & Bobby Robson's Farewell but not Goodbye [2004].

Management Career

Club(s): Coached Oxford University between 1965 and 1966. Then player-coached Vancouver Royals FC in Canada from May 1967. The club merged and placed Ferenc Puskás in charge, whom Robson assisted for a while, until he returned to Fulham FC for the third time in his career who became the manager on 23 January 1968, a position who would only hold until he was sacked in November.  After scouting for Chelsea FC, he returned to management with Ipswich Town FC in January 1969, a position he held until July 1982, when he became the manager of the England national team until he ended his reign in the summer of 1990. Following the decision not to renew his England contract, Robson was appointed manager of Philips Sport Vereniging NV in the Dutch Eredivisie. He remained for two seasons despite domestic success. He joined the Primeira Liga and Sporting Clube de Portugal in July 1992 until his sacking in December 1993. Then FC Porto picked up his services immediately, and a reversal of fortunes and success followed. Barcelona FC picked up his services in July 1996 with further success. He was General Manager in 1997-98, a position that did not sit right, so he returened to Philips Sport Vereniging NV for the 1998-99 season. He returned to England to serve the FA as an advisor, but soon took up his 'dream job' at Newcastle United FC in September 1999, and despite interest from the FA again, to take on the England manager's job in late 1999, Robson remained with Newcastle until he was sacked on 30 August 2004, after a poor start to that season. Robson turned down the offer who became the Director of Football at Heart of Midlothian, but did serve to assist Steve Staunton as a Republic of Ireland national team advisor between 13 January 2006 and 13 November 2007.
Club honours Texaco Cup winners 1973, FA Cup winners 1977-78; UEFA Cup winners 1980-81; Eredivisie Champions 1990-91, 1991-92; Taça de Portugal winners 1993-94; Primeira Liga Champions 1994-95, 1995-96; Supercopa de España winners 1996; Copa del Rey winners 1996-97; European Cup Winners Cup winners 1996-97;
Individual honours CBE for services to football 1990; FWA Tribute Award for outstanding contribution to the national game 1992; European Manager of the Year 1996-97; British Sports Writers' Association Pat Besford Trophy for Outstanding Achievement 2001; Knighted for services to football 2002; Football Association Hall of Fame 2002; LMA Special Merit Award 2002-03; Football Hall of Fame 2003; Sports Coach UK Lifetime Achievement Award 2005; Eircom International Personality of the Year 2006; BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award 2007; Emerald UEFA Order of Merit Award March 2009; FIFA Fair Play Award December 2009;
Also has the Freedom of three cities, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Ipswich and Durham.
Has a Class 91 loco named after him by East Coast Trains
(click on pic, left), and a workboat, by Port of Tyne Authority.

England Career

Player number 765th player to appear for England.
Position(s) Inside-right/right-half
First match No. 317, 27 November 1957, England 4 France 0, a friendly match at The Empire Stadium, Wembley, London, aged 24 years 282 days.
Last match No. 397, 9 May 1962, England 3 Switzerland 1, a friendly match at Empire Stadium, Wembley, London, aged 29 years 80 days.
Major tournaments World Cup Finals 1958, 1962 (injured); British Championship 1960-61, 1961-62;
Team honours British Championship winners 1960-61;
Individual honours FA Tour of West Indies 1955 and South Africa 1956, England B (one appearance), England U23 (one appearance, one goal, 1955)
Distinctions The sixtieth Durhamer to represent England

Beyond England

x.  - An English Football Internationalists' Who's Who. Douglas Lamming (1990). Hatton Press, p.x.


Bobby Robson - Career Statistics
Squads Apps comp. apps Starts Sub on Sub off Mins. Goals goals ave.min comp. goals Capt. Disc.
- 20 12 20 0 0 1800 4 450 min 1 none none
minutes are an approximation, due to the fact that many matches rarely stick to exactly ninety minutes long, allowing time for injuries and errors.


Bobby Robson - Match Record - All Matches - By Colour of Shirt
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts % W/L
Home 9 8 1 0 40 9 +31 0 3 4.444 1.00 94.4 +8
Away 8 3 3 2 20 12 +8 2 1 2.50 1.50 56.3 +1
Neutral 3 0 3 0 2 2 =0 1 1 0.667 0.667 50.0 =0
All - White 20 11 7 2 62 23 +39 3 5 3.10 1.15 72.5 +9


Bobby Robson - Match Record - By Type of Match
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L


4 3 1 0 16 2 +14 0 2 4.00 0.50 87.5 +3
WCF 3 0 3 0 2 2 =0 1 1 0.667 0.667 50.0 =0
World Cup 7 3 4 0 18 4 +14 1 3 2.571 0.571 71.4 +3
British Championship 5 3 2 0 21 8 +13 0 0 4.20 1.60 80.0 +3
Friendly 8 5 1 2 23 11 +12 2 2 2.875 1.375 68.8 +3
All 20 11 7 2 62 23 +39 3 5 3.10 1.15 72.5 +9


Bobby Robson - Match Record - Tournament Matches
World Cup Preliminary Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
WCP 1960-62 4 3 1 0 16 2 +14 0 2 4.00 0.50 87.5 +3
WCP All 4 3 1 0 16 2 +14 0 2 4.00 0.50 87.5 +3
World Cup Finals Tournament
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
WCF 1958 3 0 3 0 2 2 =0 1 1 0.667 0.667 50.0 =0
WCF 1962 0 0 0 0 0 0 =0 0 0 0.00 0.00 0.00 =0
WCF All 3 0 3 0 2 2 =0 1 1 0.667 0.667 50.0 =0
World Cup
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
WC 1956-58 3 0 3 0 2 2 =0 1 1 0.667 0.667 50.0 =0
WC 1960-62 4 3 1 0 16 2 +14 0 2 4.00 0.50 87.5 +3
WC All 7 3 4 0 18 4 +14 1 3 2.571 0.571 71.4 +3
British Championship Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
BC 1960-61 3 3 0 0 19 6 +13 0 0 6.333 2.00 100.0 +3
BC 1961-62 2 0 2 0 2 2 =0 0 0 1.00 1.00 50.0 =0
BC All 5 3 2 0 21 8 +13 0 0 4.20 1.60 80.0 +3
All Competition
Type P W D L F A GD FTS CS FAv AAv Pts% W/L
WC 7 3 4 0 18 4 +14 1 3 2.571 0.571 71.4 +3
BC 5 3 2 0 21 8 +13 0 0 4.20 1.60 80.0 +3
All 12 6 6 0 39 12 +27 1 3 3.25 1.00 75.0 +6

Match History

 Club: Fulham F.C. - no full appearances

manager: Walter Winterbottom - twenty full appearances (1800 min)x

Age 22
1 u23 28 September 1955 - England 5 Denmark 1, Fratton Park, Portsmouth Fr HW Start 8

 Club: West Bromwich Albion F.C. - twenty full appearances (1800 min)  

Age 24
1 317 27 November 1957 - England 4 France 0, Empire Stadium, Wembley Fr HW Start 8

Age 25
318 19 April 1958 - Scotland 0 England 4, Empire Stadium, Wembley BC AW reserve
319 7 May 1958 - England 2 Portugal 1, Empire Stadium, Wembley Fr HW reserve
320 11 May 1958 - Yugoslavia 5 England 0, Stadion JNA, Beograd tour AL reserve
2 321 18 May 1958 - USSR 1 England 1, Lenin Stadium, Moskva AD Start 8
3 322 8 June 1958 - England 2 USSR 2, Nya Ullevi Stadion, Göteborg WCF ND Start 8
4 323 11 June 1958 - Brazil 0 England 0, Nya Ullevi Stadion, Göteborg ND Start
5 324 15 June 1958 - Austria 2 England 2, Ryavallen Stadion, Borås ND Start
325 17 June 1958 - USSR 1 England 0, Nya Ullevi Stadion, Göteborg NL squad member
Age 27
338 9 April 1960 - Scotland 1 England 1, Hampden Park, Glasgow BC AD reserve
339 11 May 1960 - England 3 Yugoslavia 3, Empire Stadium, Wembley tour HD squad member
6 340 15 May 1960 - Spain 3 England 0, Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid AL Start 4
7 341 22 May 1960 - Hungary 2 England 0, Népstadion, Budapest AL Start 4
8 342 8 October 1960 - Northern Ireland 2 England 5, Empire Stadium, Wembley BC AW Start 4
9 343 19 October 1960 - Luxembourg 0 England 9, Stade Municipal, Stad Lëtzebuerg WCP AW Start 4
10 344 26 October 1960 - England 4 Spain 2, Empire Stadium, Wembley Fr HW Start 4
11 345 23 November 1960 - England 5 Wales 1, Empire Stadium, Wembley BC HW Start 4
Age 28
12 346 15 April 1961 - England 9 Scotland 3, Empire Stadium, Wembley BC HW Start 9 4
13 347 10 May 1961 - England 8 Mexico 0, Empire Stadium, Wembley Fr HW Start 4
14 348 21 May 1961 - Portugal 1 England 1, Estádio Nacional,Lisboa WCP AD Start 4
15 349 24 May 1961 - Italy 2 England 3, Stadio Olimpico, Roma tour AW Start 4
350 27 May 1961 - Austria 3 England 1, Praterstadion, Wien AL squad member
16 351 28 September 1961 - England 4 Luxembourg 1, Arsenal Stadium, Highbury WCP HW Start 4
17 352 14 October 1961 - Wales 1 England 1, Ninian Park, Cardiff BC AD Start 4
18 353 25 October 1961 - England 2 Portugal 0, Empire Stadium, Wembley WCP HW Start 4
19 354 22 November 1961 - England 1 Northern Ireland 1, Empire Stadium, Wembley BC HD Start 4
Age 29
20 357 9 May 1962 - England 3 Switzerland 1, Empire Stadium, Wembley Fr HW Start 4
358 20 May 1962 - Peru 0 England 4, Estadio Nacional Coloso de José Díaz, Lima Fr AW squad member
359 31 May 1962 - Hungary 2 England 1, Estadio Braden Copper Co., Rancagua WCF NL injured squad member 4
360 2 June 1962 - England 3 Argentina 1, Estadio Braden Copper Co., Rancagua NW
361 7 June 1962 - Bulgaria 0 England 0, Estadio Braden Copper Co., Rancagua ND
362 10 June 1962 - Brazil 3 England 1, Estádio Municipal, Viña del Mar NL


With his rumpled features and crooked smile, he could look crushed and weary, but when Bobby Robson began holding forth on his beloved game, those rheumy eyes would sparkle and his overwhelming enthusiasm would captivate all but the most cynical of listeners. Almost always, despite the endearing malapropisms with which his conversation was scattered, his homespun philosophy would offer an oasis of wholesome sanity in the self-obsessed world of modern top-flight football.

Robson was the doyen of the British game, a national institution whose public image had been comprehensively rehabilitated since the days of his unfair and frequently hysterical media maulings during his reign as England boss in the 1980s. In fact, he was an immensely able, honourable manager who never deserved the tabloid-fed calumny which descended on his head. His international record bears favourable comparison with all but one of his predecessors - Sir Alf Ramsey, whose side lifted the World Cup in 1966.

Eventually, when his career could be placed in perspective, and particularly following his emotional stint in charge of his childhood favourites, Newcastle United (1999-2004), his public stock rose tremendously. Their approbation, and the chance to guide his country's fortunes, sprang from his achievements at club level with unfashionable Ipswich Town, for whom Robson had operated on a comparative shoestring to create delightful sides which could hold their own, and sometimes more, against the finest in the land. Once ensconced on the international front, he never brought home a trophy, but Robson's England endured horribly unlucky elimination from successive World Cup tournaments and had their moments of triumph along the way. In addition, it should not be forgotten that the north-easterner had been a good wing-half-cum-inside-forward who won a score of appearances at a time when there was no shortage of high-quality performers in both positions.

Robson hailed from the mining community of Sacriston in Co Durham, the fourth of five sons of a father who missed only one shift at the coalface in 51 years. Having noted the bleakness of that life, young Bobby was determined to avoid the pit and did so at first by becoming an apprentice electrician at his neighbourhood colliery. Of course, Robson's ultimate salvation was football. It was both his obsession - later he would describe it as his drug - and what he did best. After starring at schoolboy level, he was given trials by Middlesbrough and Southampton, both of whom rejected him. Nothing daunted, the 15-year-old inside-forward continued to impress and two years later a posse of clubs was hunting his signature.

Robson chose Fulham, enlisting with the Londoners in May 1950 and making his First Division debut within a year. He revelled in the friendly atmosphere fostered by the chairman Tommy Trinder and shone in an enterprising line-up which also included Johnny Haynes. Despite relegation in 1952, Robson made steady personal progress, a confident but level-headed young fellow who brought both skill and industry to his twin roles of creating and scoring goals. Inevitably he attracted attention from the top grade and in March 1956 he joined West Bromwich Albion, a successful club at the time, for a then-hefty 25,000 pounds.

When England recognition arrived in November 1957, Robson responded with two debut goals in a 4-0 rout of France, suggesting that a lengthy international stint was in prospect. But selection policy was markedly inconsistent in those days, the team being picked by committee, and soon he was discarded. It was to be two years before he regained his place. During 1960/61, Walter Winterbottom's England team enjoyed a glorious undefeated sequence, winning seven games and drawing one, scoring 44 goals in the process. Sadly, they peaked too soon for the 1962 World Cup, just before which the 29-year-old Albion skipper was dropped, never to play for his country again. However, international football had not seen the last of Bobby Robson.

West Bromwich, though, had. During his Midlands sojourn he had supplemented what was then a paltry income for a married man with two (later three) sons by coaching schoolboys. But with the lifting of football's maximum wage restrictions in 1961, the way was clear for clubs to reward their players more handsomely. Some did, Albion didn't and Robson demanded a transfer, returning to Fulham for 20,000 pounds in August 1962. Back at Craven Cottage, he flourished in a mainly defensive role, bringing class to an indifferent side's annual struggle to avoid demotion from the First Division. Meanwhile, having been encouraged by Winterbottom to develop his coaching, Robson assisted Oxford University, and when he retired as a player in 1967 he set his sights on management.

After rejecting offers to coach Arsenal and who became the player-boss of Southend United, he took charge of Vancouver Royals with the great Hungarian hero Ferenc Puskas before returning to Fulham in January 1968 to take over an ailing club. Robson was unable to prevent relegation and, despite major reorganisation of his staff, the Cottagers performed poorly in Division Two and the rookie manager strove, at times, to exercise authority over former colleagues. Following a row with a director, Robson was sacked in November and found himself on the dole.

However, his luck was about to turn. After scouting briefly for Chelsea, he became boss of Ipswich Town in January 1969, thus beginning one of the most fruitful periods of his life. Not that it was all plain sailing at Portman Road. Despite establishing a rapport with the generous-spirited Cobbold family, who owned the club, Robson began by presiding over several disappointing seasons at the wrong end of the First Division. He had inherited a weak side and there were confrontations with players, including one bout of fisticuffs, as he settled in. When a vocal minority of Ipswich fans demanded his sacking, Robson feared the worst. Instead, the board persevered with their man, and, gradually, the tide turned. Despite not having the cash to compete on equal terms with rich clubs, he assembled a first-rate team, built around the likes of Mick Mills, Kevin Beattie and Allan Hunter. In 1973 they finished fourth in the table, equalling the feat in 1974, then improving to third in 1975. Thereafter they finished out of the top six only once in a decade, missing the title only narrowly on several occasions.

They did have their moments, however, winning the Uefa Cup in 1981, though for the sheer joy it brought, even that could not equal their heady and massively popular victory over Arsenal in the 1978 FA Cup final.  An operator of Robson's calibre was bound to receive periodic offers. But as the chances to leave Portman Road came in, so he spurned them. He could have gone to Leeds, Newcastle, Barcelona and Manchester United among others; but instead he remained loyal to Ipswich and the Cobbolds, treating them as they had treated him. It did him huge credit.

However, there was one temptation from which Robson could not walk away. He had been interviewed for the England post when Don Revie upped sticks in 1977 and had run the international "B" team between 1978 and 1982. When the opportunity of the top job came his way in 1982, he accepted. He got off to a solid start, despite early vilification for the axing of Kevin Keegan. But, predictably in view of England's failure to reach the 1984 European Championship finals, his "honeymoon" was woefully short. After one Wembley defeat by Russia he was spat on and showered with beer, but that was nothing compared to what certain newspapers had in store. Chief persecutors were The Sun, which produced badges proclaiming "Robson Out, Clough In", though that, in its turn, was mild compared with what would follow later letdowns.

Around this time Robson was head-hunted once more by Barcelona, but he demonstrated his strength of character by refusing the Spaniards for a second time. In the short term he was rewarded by one of the finest results England have ever managed, victory in Brazil, but by now all attention was centred on the 1986 World Cup. England duly qualified, then stuttered in their early matches in Mexico before recovering, thanks largely to Gary Lineker's hat-trick against Poland, to reach a quarter-final against the eventual champions, Argentina. That day Robson's men were undone by Diego Maradona, who scored twice in his side's 2-1 win. The first was the infamous "Hand of God" goal, and the second was a work of pure genius. England threatened a draw, but couldn't quite achieve it; they had been unlucky, but Robson deserved praise for orchestrating a noble effort.

It wasn't quite like that in 1988 when England lost all their games in the European Championship finals and returned home from Germany in disgrace. Now Bobby Robson's relations with the press hit a new low. He was castigated mercilessly, being told to "Go in the Name of God". Then, after a drab showing against Saudi Arabia, this was amended to "Go in the Name of Allah". Very droll.

Clearly there was a limit to what one man could take and, after England scraped into the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy, Robson announced that he would quit after the tournament. The build-up games inspired little faith but the team progressed, with a measure of good fortune, to a semi-final confrontation with West Germany. Here, for the first time, they played like potential champions, with the maverick Paul Gascoigne showing signs of realising his phenomenal potential. But just as Robson was poised on the threshold of emulating Sir Alf Ramsey by reaching a World Cup final, luck deserted him. The Germans having taken a fortunate lead, England equalised through Lineker and proved the stronger side, only to die the most dreaded of soccer deaths, by penalty shoot-out. At least, however, an emotional Robson could bow out on a decent note. It was the least he merited after eight years in which he had presided over 47 victories, 30 draws and only 18 defeats, as well as carrying out vast amounts of unsung youth coaching work.

If there were ever any doubt about his ability, it was laid to rest emphatically in his subsequent career. He led PSV Eindhoven to two Dutch titles, thus laying to rest the championship bogey that had haunted him at Ipswich. Then came a move to Sporting Lisbon, which ended surprisingly in the sack, and a more successful spell with Porto, whom he guided to a European Cup semi-final in 1994 before winning two more titles.

After undergoing a second cancer operation in 1995 (the first had been in 1992), Robson recovered rapidly and turned down the chance of managing Arsenal. Still, though, his drive remained strong and a year later, aged 63, at last he accepted an invitation from Barcelona. In his first term, despite the recruitment of the star Brazilian striker Ronaldo, the side made an uncertain start and as the pressure of colossal expectation mounted, Robson ran into political problems with the autocratic club president Josép Nuñez. By New Year 1997, the Ajax coach Louis van Gaal had been lined up to replace Robson at season's end, but the Englishman embarrassed his employers by inspiring his men to double glory, Barcelona beating Paris St-Germain to lift the European Cup-Winners' Cup and Real Betis to take the Spanish Cup. Now he was impossible to sack, so when van Gaal arrived for 1997/98, Robson was shunted "upstairs" who became the director of recruitment, a glorified chief scout, a post he held for a year before taking over again at PSV.

In 1999 he returned to England and accepted a Football Association offer who became the mentor to the next generation of England coaches, but in September he got the call from the club he had loved as long as he could remember, Newcastle United. At St James' Park, where he replaced Ruud Gullit, he found a strife-torn club at the foot of the Premier League; morale was low, indiscipline was rife and there were wounds to heal. He began by restoring Alan Shearer (who had been dropped by the Dutchman) to the side and the England centre-forward responded by scoring five goals in Robson's first home match, an 8-0 annihilation of Sheffield Wednesday.

The new boss immediately infused the place with his infectious enthusiasm. He overhauled the coaching regime and began team-building, at first without much money, but eventually with a substantial budget. He transformed United's fortunes. In that first campaign they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and enjoyed an enlivening Uefa Cup run. Then, after another season of consolidation, they topped the table in December before finishing fourth in 2001/02. The following summer Robson, who had been appointed CBE in 1991, was knighted.

Newcastle rose to third in 2002/03 and attained the second group phase of the Champions League. In 2003/04 they made an appearance in the Uefa Cup semi-finals, where they lost to Marseille, offering compensation for dipping to fifth place in the League. All the while Robson represented traditional and sensible sporting values while continuing to radiate his passion for the game, and at times he was understandably perplexed by the boorish or careless attitudes of some of the young millionaires in his charge.

Some observers doubted whether a septuagenarian was capable of controlling the volatile likes of Craig Bellamy and Lee Bowyer, and on the eve of the 2004/05 season, Robson's position was undermined by the chairman, Freddy Shepherd - one of the directors caught mocking the fans so disgracefully - who announced that Robson's contract would not be renewed in the spring. At the end of August Robson was summarily sacked by Shepherd, but on the day of his departure it was his and not the chairman's dignity which shone through the storm clouds gathering over St James' Park. Even after that, after everything, Robson remained eager to be involved in football, and in January 2006, now aged 73, he was named as consultant to the new Republic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton. Soon, there followed a third successful cancer operation, though his vulnerability was underlined that August when, after being appointed honorary president of Ipswich Town, he fell ill 10 minutes into their game against Crystal Palace.

Robson stepped down from his Irish role in November 2007, and in March 2008, as he launched a foundation at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital to help in the fight against cancer, he spoke of battling the disease for the fifth time. Already the new charity has raised more than 1.3 million pounds and he was still campaigning for it indomitably on Sunday, when he attended a fundraising game, a re-run of the 1990 England-Germany semi-final, at St. James' Park. Bobby Robson was a sensitive and decent man, a truly accomplished manager who rose courageously above an army of petty tormentors. Though he never achieved his ambitions of lifting the World Cup or the English League crown, he came close enough to earn real and lasting honour in the game to which he devoted his life. - The Independent Obituary