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Rediff.com  » Sports » World's footballing family bids farewell to Bobby Robson

World's footballing family bids farewell to Bobby Robson

Last updated on: September 22, 2009 

'Robson was a footballing colossus'

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Bobby Robson was described as a "footballing colossus" as some of the sport's greatest names attended a memorial service for the former England manager on Monday.

More than 1,000 people, including Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and current England manager Fabio Capello, were at the service in Durham's 11th century cathedral to pay tribute to Robson who died in July aged 76 after a long battle with cancer.

Former players including Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker joined representatives from soccer's governing bodies FIFA and UEFA as well as Barcelona, one of the four overseas clubs he coached, inside the cathedral in Robson's native north east.


Image: Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson (left) with current England manager Fabio Capello
Photographs: Reuters
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'This is a day to celebrate the life of a remarkable man'

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"This is a day to celebrate the life of a remarkable man and all he stood for," said the Bishop of Newcastle, Martin Wharton, a season-ticket holder at Newcastle United, the club Robson watched as a boy and then managed from 1999 to 2004.

Under heavy damp, skies in the city's main square, more than 2,000 people paid their respects to a man described as "a footballing colossus" by Bishop Wharton.

The service was beamed live to Newcastle's St James' Park ground, Fulham's Craven Cottage in London, where he played and also managed, and Ipswich Town's Portman Road where he won the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981 before being appointed England manager in 1982.


Image: Former England football player Paul Gascoigne

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'The most passionate man I've ever met in football'

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Gary Lineker, who led England's attack under Robson in both the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, said he was "the single most enthusiastic and passionate man I've ever met in football" and described being handed his international debut in 1984.

"He immediately made me feel relaxed, introducing me to some of my idols, like Peter Shilton and Bryan Robson," said Lineker, whose former England team mates Paul Gascoigne and Terry Butcher were also in the cathedral.

"He told me he'd been watching me for awhile and thought I'd score a lot of goals. He made me feel 7ft tall.

"He put me on the bench to face Wales but did bring me down to earth somewhat when he pointed at me with about 20 minutes to go and said, 'Get warmed up Garth'."


Image: Former England striker Gary Lineker speaks during the memorial service

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'He will always influence me'

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Ferguson spoke of Robson's generosity when he was still a young manager at Aberdeen who were drawn against Ipswich in the UEFA Cup the season after Ipswich had won the trophy.

"He allowed me to watch them train, and after a 1-1 draw there we beat them 3-1 in the second leg. He came into our dressing room afterwards and said that anyone who beat his side deserved to go on and win the trophy.

"He influenced me then and he will always influence me."


Image: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson

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'He was a great man, and will never be forgotten'

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Robson dedicated his last months to raising money for cancer research and Ruth Plummer, of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, explained how he helped raise 500,000 pounds within weeks of launching an appeal for money for new clinical trials.

"There were donations through our website, from the north-east, all over the country and all over the world," Plummer said. "It was phenomenal, the love that came through for him in those donations."

The service ended with Tenors Unlimited singing Nessun Dorma, forever associated in England with the 1990 World Cup when England lost to West Germany on penalties in the semi-finals.

"It was a very moving ceremony," said Gascoigne. "He was a great man, and will never be forgotten."


Image: The wife of the late Bobby Robson, Elsie (left) and his son Andrew

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