Sir Bobby Robson: tributes flow in, from Ipswich to Barcelona(Telegraph)

Robson's death, aged 76 after a long battle with the disease, drew tributes from Prince William and the Prime Minister, saw flags lowered to half-mast at St James' Park, Portman Road and Wembley, and touched people from his native North East to Barcelona.

The Football Association will mark his passing with a minute's silence at the Community Shield next weekend, in which Manchester United and Chelsea will wear black armbands, as will Football League clubs and the England team when they meet Holland on Aug 12.




Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who was still playing when Robson took his first steps as a manager in 1968 and faced him from the opposing dugout many times in the Premier League, said "there is not a person I would put an inch above Bobby Robson.

"I mourn the passing of a great friend, a wonderful individual, a tremendous football man and somebody with passion and knowledge of the game that was unsurpassed. The world, not just the football world, will miss him."

Fabio Capello, who was manager of Real Madrid when Robson was at Barcelona, spoke with equal warmth. "Sir Bobby was a wonderful man, a real gentleman," said the England manager.

"He was a fantastic man, and loved by so many people. His spirit and courage was incredible. To fight cancer so many times really showed the strength of the man."

Robson was first diagnosed with cancer in 1991, just a year after perhaps his finest hour, guiding England to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Italy. That it took a further 18 years for the disease to claim him speaks volumes for his courage.

Robson was the first England manager to be ravaged by the tabloid media, but his conduct at Italia 90 and his response to a galling semi-final defeat by West Germany captured all that was admirable about him.

The jig of delight with which Robson greeted Gary Lineker's equaliser in the semi-final encapsulated his transparent love of the game and was perhaps his defining image; the regretful half-shake of the head that followed the fateful final penalty illustrated his perspective. Defeat hurt, but Robson knew how to lose as well as win.

He passed on those lessons to his players, who remembered him with great affection. George Burley, one of the stars of the Ipswich team which Robson established as title contenders in the early Eighties and who won the 1978 FA Cup and 1981 Uefa Cup, described him as a father figure.

"Sir Bobby was like a father to me, taking a personal interest in me right from the start, always checking whether I was happy," Burley said. "His support and enthusiasm was the perfect cure for homesickness and helped my career to get off the ground and thrive.

"I could not possibly get my head round how my career would have gone had it not been for Sir Bobby Robson. I owe him everything and I only hope I can be guided by the example he showed me."

Roy Keane who follows in Robson's managerial footsteps at Ipswich Town said: "It [Sir Bobby's passing] was in the back of our minds today before the game. It was strange, in a sense. Only right that it was strange because of the loss of Sir Bobby this morning.

"It was good that we had to go out and the players were able to pay their respects. I was fortunate to meet him a few times. I spent ten minutes with him at the Sunderland training ground last year, and ten minutes in his company was enough for me to see what a great man he was."

"I'm very proud to be here to follow in the traditions and history that Sir Alf and Sir Bobby developed here. Look what Sir Bobby acheived. We have to follow that. I'm a bit of a dreamer, and I know Sir Bobby did not have it all his own way when he came here in his first few years, and he fought hard to develop the club.

"I might have to remind the media of that in the next few months if don't have it all our own way. But you have to believe."



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