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Portrait of an iconic manager – Sir Bobby Robson

Sir Bobby Robson is regarded amongst one of the best managers that England has produced. A forward in his playing days, Robson went on to manage in several major European countries, something that not many English managers are willing to try. And in doing so, he achieved success too.

Robson started his playing career with Fulham in the old English First Division. Playing as a forward, he went on to score 68 league goals from his 152 appearances during his six-year stint at Craven Cottage.

In 1958, he moved to the Hawthorns and enjoyed another six-year spell with West Bromwich Albion for whom he netted 56 league goals in over 200 games. 1962 saw him return to Craven Cottage and play close to 200 games for the Cottagers before moving to North America and playing a solitary season with Vancouver Royals.

Robson also appeared in 20 games for the England national team and scored four games for the Three Lions.

After hanging his playing boots, Robson started his managerial stint with Fulham in 1968 before moving to Ipswich Town the following year. During his 13-year spell with the Tractor Boys, Robson earned legendary status, winning the side the FA Cup in 1978 – which remains the club’s only one to date. And he also won them the UEFA Cup in 1981, again the only European Cup that the team, currently plying their trade in the Championship, have won.

Between 1982 and 1990 he was at the helm of the Three Lions and took them to the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup in Italy. The team went agonisingly close to reaching the final, but couldn’t get past West Germany in the semi-final in a penalty shootout. Nevertheless, it still remains England’s best showing in a World Cup after their 1966 win under Alf Ramsey.

After his stint with the England national team, Robson did what most English managers are reluctant to do – manage abroad.

He first took up the managerial rein at PSV Eindhoven in 1990 and won them the league title in each of his two seasons at the Philips Stadion. He then managed Sporting Portugal before switching allegiance to Porto, where he again won two league titles in two seasons. It was at Porto that he mentored Jose Mourinho and ultimately took him to Barcelona to work as a translator.

Robson then replaced Johan Cruyff at Barcelona and won three trophies in his only season the Camp Nou. Another one-year stint with PSV Eindhoven followed before he moved home to Newcastle United.

Sir Bobby Robson’s stint at Newcastle was a decent one as he pulled the team back from the midtable. In the 2002 – 2003 Premier League season, Robson guided Newcastle to a third place finish. However, the most memorable event of that season for the Newcastle supporters was the team’s comeback in the group stage of the 2002 – 2003 Champions League. The Magpies became the only team to have progressed past the group stage after losing their first three games. Newcastle lost their first three fixtures against Dynamo Kyiv, Feyenoord and Juventus but they defeated all these three teams in the remaining fixtures to earn nine points, which allowed them to go through to the next round as Group E runners-up behind Juventus.

After five seasons with the Magpies, Robson retired from management in 2004. His contributions to the game have been recognised with a knighthood from the British monarchy as well as a statue in front of St. James’ Park.

Honours:

Ipswich Town

FA Cup (1): 1977–78

UEFA Cup (1): 1980–81

Texaco Cup (1): 1973

PSV Eindhoven

Eredivisie (2): 1990–91, 1991–92

Porto

Primeira Liga (2): 1994–95, 1995–96

Taça de Portugal (1): 1993–94

Barcelona

Copa del Rey (1): 1996–97

Supercopa de España (1): 1996

European Cup Winners’ Cup (1): 1997

England

FIFA World Cup – Fourth Place (1): 1990

Rous Cup (3): 1986, 1988, 1989