Tributes flooded in from all over the football world on Friday after former England manager Bobby Robson died following a long battle with cancer. A statement issued on behalf of his family said the 76-year-old, who won league titles in the Netherlands and Portugal and managed Barcelona, passed away peacefully at home. "It is with great sadness that it has been announced today that Bobby Robson has lost his long and courageous battle with cancer," it read. "He died very peacefully this morning at his home in County Durham with his wife and family beside him. Flags flew at half mast at Ipswich Town, the club where Robson made his mark as a manager, at the headquarters of the Football Association and Wembley Stadium, while at his home-town club Newcastle United, who Robson managed until 2004, players and staff held a minute silence and fans flowed in with flowers. Robson's final public appearance was on Sunday at St James' Park when the wheelchair-bound Geordie was given an emotional standing ovation by 30,000 fans during a special match to raise money for his own cancer charity. The Football League said the first matches of the new season on Aug. 8 would be marked by minute's applause around the grounds while the Premier League is discussing a similar mark of respect when its season begins a week later. WONDERFUL MAN Current England coach Fabio Capello was joined by many of his predecessors in remembering Robson who was national coach from 1982-90, culminating in reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup in Italy. "Sir Bobby was a wonderful man, a real gentleman," said Capello in a statement. "He loved the game and was extremely proud of his country and the North East region." Terry Venables, who like Robson managed Barcelona and steered England to the Euro 1996 semi-finals, added: It's a really sad day, he's always been a fighter. He's always fought everything's that's been thrown at him and he's just run out of luck this time." Sven-Goran Eriksson, England's first overseas manager, said Robson had been an inspiration. "When I became coach of England I called him many times and he was always generous with his advice and helpful," Swede Eriksson said. "It seems he was as friendly to everybody as he was to me. In fact for me, he was the special one." Robson, the son of a coal miner, was one of the most popular men in world football. He enjoyed a successful playing career with West Bromwich Albion and Fulham during the 1950s and 60s and earning 20 England caps before moving into coaching. He carved out a reputation as one of the most astute young managers in England after taking over at unfashionable Ipswich Town in 1969, establishing them as regular title challengers and winning the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981. He was named England manager in 1982 and despite a tough start he ended his eight-year reign by leading what many believed to be the best England side since 1966 to the World Cup semi-finals where they lost to West Germany on penalties. EUROPEAN ODYSSEY His success with England attracted interest from Europe and Robson took over at PSV Eindhoven in 1990, leading them to consecutive Dutch titles. After a brief spell with Sporting Lisbon, Robson was hired by Porto where he won two titles before taking the pressure-cooker Barcelona job in 1996. In one year at the Nou Camp he won the Spanish Cup, Spanish Super Cup and European Cup Winners' Cup. Robson, who was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1992 and had a malignant melanoma in 1995, made an emotional return to his native Newcastle in 1999 aged 66, taking over as manager. He twice took them into the Champions League but was sacked in 2004. His final job in football was working with Ireland as a special consultant but he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in 2008 and spent the last years of his life raising money for his charity to help others fight the disease. News of Robson's death transcended the world of football with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown leading the tributes. "I had the privilege of meeting Bobby on many occasions. He epitomised everything that is great about football in this country. His passion, patriotism, dedication and professionalism knew no equal during his time both as a player and a manager," Brown said in a statement. INTERVIEW: FourFourTwo's One-on-One with Sir Bobby BLOG: In praise of Sir Bobby Robson NEWS: Football world mourns Sir Bobby Robson NEWS: Tributes flood in for Sir Bobby VIDEO: Sir Bobby Robson Trophy - England 3-2 Germany
31 July 2009
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