Bobby Robson was one of the greatest football managers in the history of the game, winning notable cups and leagues across Europe throughout his career. He was awarded a CBE in 1990, and was knighted in 2002 for his services to football.
Robert William Robson was born in County Durham on 18 February 1933, the fourth of 5 sons. His father, Phillip Robson, was a coalminer and avid Newcastle United fan. The young Bobby was often taken to watch the team play at St James’ Park on Saturday afternoons, a club he would later go on to manage.
At the age of 11, Bobby joined his local football team and impressed from the off – so much so that at 17 he was offered contracts by Middlesbrough and Fulham. Despite Middlesbrough being his local team, the offer to join Fulham was too good to turn down, and he moved to London, now as a professional footballer.
During his playing career, Robson played for Fulham, West Bromwich Albion, England and the Vancouver Royals. He played in 627 matches, and scored 141 goals. However, it’s perhaps his managerial achievements that Robson is best remembered for.
His first season in management was for Fulham. Despite joining in January 1968, he couldn’t prevent the team from being relegated to the second division, and left in November.
He moved to Ipswich Town in 1969, and established himself as a successful manager, taking them to FA Cup glory in 1978. His reign at Ipswich lasted 13 years, during which time Ipswich twice finished league runners-up, and made regular appearances in European competitions. They won the UEFA cup in 1981 with a 5-4 aggregate victory over the Dutch side AZ 67 Alkmaar.
Robson’s achievements earned him the offer to manage England, taking charge of the national side on 7 July 1982. The team qualified for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, where they were knocked out by Argentina in the quarter-finals. At the 1990 World Cup in Italy, England reached the semi-finals, where they lost to West Germany in a penalty shoot-out. Robson was awarded a CBE on his return to England (Gazette issue 52382).
With the Football Association choosing not to renew his contract, Robson moved to the Netherlands to manage PSV Eindhoven. His team won the Dutch league in 1991 and 1992, before moving to Portugal to manage both Sporting Clube de Portugal and FC Porto. He won successive league titles in 1995 and 1996.
Robson won further honours with Barcelona between 1996 and 1997, winning the Spanish Cup, Spanish Super Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup. In 1999, he moved back to England to manage Newcastle until 2004. He was knighted in 2002 (Gazette issue 56595).
Robson’s health began to decline in his later years, having surgery on a tumour in his right lung, and a brain tumour, both in 2006. The cancer was diagnosed as terminal in 2007, and he died on 31 July 2009 at his home in County Durham, age 76.