Bobby Robson chose to remain with Barcelona in 1997 following Kevin Keegan’s resignation from duties at St James’ Park, but eventually arrived at Newcastle United as Ruud Gullit’s bizarre tenure came to a close in 1999.
An immediate upturn in fortunes for the Magpies was followed by two years of stability, but by the time 2002 came around, the former Ipswich, England, Porto and PSV coach had built a good team packed with pace and goalscoring ability.
Having battled with, and beaten, cancer on several occasions, Robson sadly passed away on 31 July 2009. His final public appearance was a hugely emotional replay of the 1990 World Cup Semi Final held at St James’ Park between England and (West) Germany, featuring members of both original squads and other guests. The match was played to raise funds for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, a charity which IBWM is extremely proud to be associated with.
This weekend saw the unveiling of a statue of Sir Bobby by Tom Maley at Newcastle United’s St James Park, a goal kick away from a memorial garden that also carries his name. Although his VERY best times in football occurred elsewhere (there is also a statue of Robson at Ipswich Town's Portman Road), Newcastle was unquestionably Robson’s spiritual home as his widow, Lady Robson, confirmed at the unveiling: “It feels fitting we should be standing on the hill that Bobby used to walk up with his father and brother on Saturday afternoons to watch Albert Stubbins and his other boyhood heroes.
“It was here Bobby’s love of football began and here he returned to proudly manage Newcastle United and help them rebuild and lift them into Europe. My husband often spoke of living a black-and-white life. It took him from the darkness of Langley Park Colliery to the bright glare of the floodlights.”