Sir Bobby Robson


Sir Bobby Robson, one of English football’s most loved personalities, passed away after a long battle with cancer five years ago. 

To mark the anniversary there will be football events as part of The FA’s ‘Love Football, Play Football’ campaign in Ipswich, where Bobby managed so successfully, and other tributes paid all over the country. 

As a top-class player Bobby was a wing-half or inside-forward who could both create and score goals. He began with Fulham and was at West Bromwich Albion when he won the first of his 20 England caps in 1957. 

Sir Bobby Robson

Bobby during an England training session

It was a dream debut, Bobby scoring twice as France were beaten 4-0 in a Wembley friendly.
He linked up superbly with Blackburn right-winger Bryan Douglas and it was a partnership that promised much with the World Cup in Sweden only a few months away. 

Tommy Taylor gave England an early lead before Bobby made it 2-0 on 24 minutes, converting Douglas’s low cross with aplomb. He notched the fourth too on a grey November afternoon. 

The England star had a disappointingly short spell as Fulham’s manager before commencing a glorious 13 years as Ipswich Town boss in 1969. The Suffolk side were FA Cup semi-finalists in 1975 before finally making it to Wembley three years later. 

Bobby’s Final team included five full internationals but it was the little-known Roger Osborne who scored the goal that beat Arsenal. 

Bobby’s Ipswich were Champions in Europe in 1981, winning a two-legged UEFA Cup Final against AZ 67 Alkmaar from Holland. 

Goals by John Wark (penalty), Frans Thijssen and Paul Mariner as 27,000 fans wedged into Portman Road gave them a 3-0 advantage going into the second leg. They lost 4-2 in Holland but it was Mick Mills who lifted a major trophy for the second time. 

Bobby was appointed England manager the following year. His team missed out on qualification for the 1984 European Championship but there were better times to come. Eight days after a Wembley defeat to USSR, England faced Brazil in the opening match of their South American tour. 

Sir Bobby Robson

Bobby with ex-England skipper Bryan Robson

The Brazilians were said to be ‘on a different planet’ but a John Barnes wonder goal, dribbling from the halfway line, and a powerful Mark Hateley header inflicted on Brazil their first defeat in the famous ‘Maracana’ for 27 years. 

England suffered a traumatic start to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, dropping points against Portugal and Morocco, and Bobby delayed announcing his team until an hour before the all-or-nothing clash with Poland in Monterrey. 

But England, and Gary Lineker in particular, gave everything that their manager could have asked for and pride was restored after a 3-0 win. 

England qualified for the next European Championship in style. The match with Yugoslavia in the Red Star Stadium had to go down as one of the best away victories ever achieved by an England team. 

The Yugoslavs were thought to be difficult opponents but they were blown away as the inspired visitors netted four times in the first half through Beardsley, Barnes, Robson and Adams. 

With a battling point won against the Swedes in Solna, England edged towards the 1990 World Cup. Terry Butcher famously finished the match with a bloodied head and another England stalwart, goalkeeper Peter Shilton, stood firm as Sweden pushed hard for a late winner. 

Sir Bobby Robson

Barcelona days with Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola

Bobby’s charges went on to reach the semi-finals, still England’s best performance on foreign soil, and there was a memorable climax to their match with Belgium in Bologna. 

Two tired teams were dragging themselves through to the end of extra-time, the match still goalless, as Paul Gascoigne chipped a long free-kick into the Belgian box with a minute to go. 

David Platt, a substitute, allowed the ball to drop over his shoulder before hooking it across the flat-footed Preud’homme and into the net. Cue delirium. 

After leaving the England job, Bobby had great success at club level in Holland, Portugal and Spain. He managed Barcelona to the European Cup Winners’ Cup Final in 1997, when Ronaldo’s 37th-minute penalty was enough to beat Paris Saint-Germain in Rotterdam. 

Bobby had five years in charge at Newcastle United, the club he had supported as a boy, and then put his name and efforts into the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, a cancer research charity which has collected millions of pounds. 

The ultimate ‘Football Man’ was created a Knight Bachelor and inducted as a member of the English Football Hall of Fame.

Sir Bobby Robson

A statue of Sir Bobby in Ipswich