Friday, 31 July 2009
Sir Bobby Robson. 18 February 1933 - 31 July 2009
A departure from the normal format this evening.
I love football. However not as much as I used to, and a little less today.
I've not commented on the recent deaths of the two WW1 veterans, not that I don't care, I have boundless respect for them and their actions, but I knew nothing about them personally.
Bobby Robson's death today has left me feeling genuinely very sad. His Ipswich side were in their pomp when I was first exposed to football, and his England side were the first side I was old enough to follow with any sense of understanding during the '86 World Cup. The fact he managed to keep hold of his job after the disastrous '88 European Championships in the face of some shocking treatment from the media and then took the side to the semi finals in the Italian World Cup of 1990 stand as a testament to his determination.
Whenever a public figure dies the tributes come 'pouring in' and Robson is no different. What is different is the almost tangible feeling of admiration, affection and respect that these tributes betray. Here was a man who was held in the highest regard, the reactions of Ipswich Town and Newcastle United and their supporters are touching, but not surprising, given his long associations with both clubs. What is just as touching have been the reactions of PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, FC Porto and Sporting CP Lisbon where he spent less time but left just as big an impression.
Robson played a big part in the development of figures such as Jose Mourinho, Ronaldo (Luís Nazário de Lima) and current Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola. His influence in the European game is not perhaps as well understood in England, being overshadowed by his success in Italia '90.
In an era where unprecedented sums of money are changing hands for players who act in a fashion which would see them given ASBOs if they were 'normal people', Robson stands as a reminder of the virtues of quiet industry and respectful behaviour.
The game is a deal poorer for his loss.