LONDON: Bobby Robson, who coached England to the 1990 World Cup semifinals and won football trophies in four countries, died Friday. He was 76.
“It is with great sadness that it has been announced today that Sir Bobby Robson has lost his long and courageous battle with cancer,” a family statement said.
“He died very peacefully this morning at his home in County Durham with his wife and family beside him.”
Robson had appeared in a wheelchair at Newcastle’s St James’ Park on Sunday when thousands of football fans crowded into the stadium to pay tribute to him and raise funds for his cancer charity.
The popular and garrulous coach, who was given a knighthood in 2002 for his services to football, was diagnosed with cancer five times since 1991 and had continued to work until November 2007.
While an attacking midfielder with Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, Robson played 20 times for England, a stretch that included the 1958 World Cup.
As a manager, Robson never won the English championship, but took his country to its best World Cup finish since its 1966 title. His team lost to Germany in a semifinal on penalty kicks at Italia 90.
Robson was at St James’ Park on Sunday to witness a charity match that included several members of the 1990 World Cup squad including Paul Gascoigne play a team of former Germany players.
Robson rose to fame in the 1970s when he turned unfashionable Ipswich into one of the country’s top teams, rejecting offers from clubs including Manchester United and Leeds as he led the small east England club to the FA Cup and UEFA Cup.
He went on to manage PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, FC Porto and Barcelona.
His last club job was at Newcastle, the club he supported as a boy, and he took his final role as a mentor to novice Ireland coach Steve Staunton in January 2006 at age 72.
Robson’s family said they will hold a private funeral service for him.
“A thanksgiving service in celebration of Sir Bobby’s life will be held at a later date for his many friends and colleagues,” the family said. “Lady Robson and the family would very much appreciate it if their privacy could be respected at this difficult time.” -- AP
Links: Timeline and factfile (Guardian) Robson in quotes (BBC) Tributes to Sir Bobby (SkySports)