By Rob McGibbon
Sir Bobby Robson is embraced as something
of a national treasure these days, which makes it so much harder to
recall the bucket loads of vitriol regularly poured over him by all
quarters of the press while he was England manager.
eight-year tenure and two World Cups, Robson was ridiculed relentlessly
for anything from his tactics and team selection to his unintentionally
hilarious ability to get players' names wrong.
But all the
vicious headlines were washed away with Gazza's tears when — somewhat
incredibly — Robson took England to that fateful semi-final shoot-out
against Germany in Italia '90.
Managerial stints followed across
Europe, including at Barcelona, where he signed Ronaldo and was named
European Manager of the Year. Geordie Robson was the saviour of
Newcastle United in 1999 when he took them from the bottom of the
Premiership to three top-five finishes, but he was acrimoniously sacked
within four games of the 2004-2005 season.
Anyone would have
thought that was the end of the great man, but he was recently
installed as the international football consultant to Ireland manager
Robson is 73, but is indefatigable.
the other week, he had a minor operation for a punctured lung — an
injury he got while skiing. He is still taking on life as if it's the
downhill. Robson survived cancer in 1995, got his knighthood in 2002
and has now had 56 years in football. He has been married to Elsie
since 1955 and they have three sons and four grandchildren.
Robson is genial, gentlemanly and good hearted, so it is no wonder the headlines are kinder these days.
But he is nobody's fool.
Read the full interview with Sir Bobby Robson in this week's Press Gazette.
Or at www.robmcgibbon.com