Today would have been the 84th birthday of Bobby Robson who finally died after his long fight with cancer on 31st July, 2009, aged 76.
We have always thought Sir Bobby was an excellent manager but he was even a better person for the way he was simply class when things were going against him – he was always dignified when things got really tough.
He managed Ipswich Town for 13 years to great success with basically very little money and then managed England for 8 years from 1982 and took us to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1990.
That’s when we lost on penalties to Germany after extra time.
Sir Bobby Robson – an inspiration
Bobby had also taken us to the quarter finals of the World Cup in 1986 before Argentina, Diego Maradona and the hand of God beat us.
Bobby finally took over the management of Newcastle United when we were second bottom of the league in September of 1999 at age 66, when we had just one point after six games played and Ruud Gullit had been fired after just one year in the job.
Bobby turned everything around in that season and in his first home game at St. James’ Park we beat bottom club Sheffield Wednesday 8-0.
Bobby finished that season in 2000 with 51 points from the 32 games he managed – 52 points from 38 games in total for Newcastle who finished in 11th place – a fabulous display of coaching and man-management.
Sir Bobby had Newcastle in 4th, 3rd and 5th positions in his final three seasons as Newcastle manager before he was fired on 30th August of 2004, the day before I retired from IBM after 34 years there.
His record at Newcastle was 255 games managed, won 119, drew 64 and lost 72 for a win ratio of around 47% and a loss ratio of around 28%.
Bobby was the son of a miner and a life-long Newcastle fan and he famously founded the successful Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which has raised millions and millions of pounds for research into the treatment of cancer.
But the one thing we remember about Sir Bobby and which is still a source of real inspiration to this day is his complete class, the fact that he was always a gentleman and he handled all kinds of adversity with such dignity.
He was truly a great man.