Sports - February 23, 2008

The word legend is overused in football, but was certainly appropriate for the late footballer and manager, Sir Bobby Robson who died last week after a long and courageous battle with cancer. I’m too young to remember Sir Bobby as a player, but I can remember him as the manager who took the English national team closer to a World Cup victory than arguably any manager before or since. After going out in 1986 to Argentina in a match which involved the notorious Hand of God incident, Robson came back in 1990, inspiring his team to a magnificent performance which took them to the semi-final against West Germany. Sadly, once again, the curse of the penalty shoot-out hit England, and they came home disappointed. However, the country were not disappointed with Robson, who had won a place both in footballing mythology and the hearts of a new generation of fans.

An amiable and avuncular character, Sir Bobby was renowned for his enthusiasm and ability to inspire players. In later life, he won renewed admiration for his courage and tenacity following his diagnosis with cancer, a disease he fought, and often beat, over a 17 year period. During this time, he not only continued his career as a manager, but also set up the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, a charity which works to research the early detection and treatment of cancer. It seems very fitting that a man with such a love of life, will leave something life-saving as his legacy.

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