Sir Bobby Robson was one of England’s greatest ever managers. He took unfashionable club Ipswich Town on an adventure through Europe that saw them lift the biggest trophy in their history, the UEFA Cup.
He managed some of the best clubs in the world and enjoyed success everywhere he went. Robson also managed England for eight years, taking them as close as anyone to winning their first major tournament since they won the World Cup in 1966.
Apart from Robson’s success as a manager, he had an enthusiasm and passion that made him one of the game’s most loved characters.
Despite managing into his seventies and battling health problems in his later career, Robson retained a positive and youthful approach to football. All those who worked with him and against him admired and respected him, not only as a fantastic manager, but also a great man.
Getting off to a bad start with Fulham
After a successful playing career as an inside forward at Fulham and West Bromwich Albion, Robson took his first steps into management in 1968 at Fulham who were struggling at the bottom of the old Division One. Robson failed to stave of relegation and left the club the following November.
Glory days at Portman Road
He wasn’t out of work for long though and took over at Ipswich in 1969. He established himself as a promising young manager and after four seasons in charge he led the club to a top four finish.
Ipswich finished in the top six in all but one season for the next eight years and that one season blip was because they enjoyed a successful FA Cup run beating Arsenal in the final.
Robson twice led Ipswich to a second place finish during his 13-year tenure but his greatest achievement was leading them to UEFA Cup glory in 1981 when they defeated Dutch side AZ Alkmaar 5-4 on aggregate.
Remarkably, Robson only signed 14 players for Ipswich during his 13 year spell as boss, preferring to develop youngsters at the club into first team regulars.
After Ron Greenwood was dismissed as England manager following elimination from the World Cup in 1982, the FA offered the job to Robson. He accepted their offer but failed to qualify for the European Championships in 1984.
There was pressure from the public who wanted to see Brian Clough take the hot seat and Robson even offered his resignation to step aside and let Clough take the helm. However, this offer was rejected by the FA and Robson remained in charge.
The Hand of God
England did qualify for the World Cup in 1986 and were building momentum after a slow start in the group stages.
They faced Argentina in the quarter finals but were defeated by two goals from Diego Maradona. The first was the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal when Maradona punched the ball into the goal.
The second came after a wonderful run that showed the world that Maradona really was the greatest. He beat half the England team before rounding the goalkeeper to double the Argentina’s lead. Gary Lineker pulled one back for England but it wasn’t enough and they were eliminated.
Disaster at Euro 88
After comfortably qualifying for the European Championships in 1988, England suffered a catastrophic group stage. They lost all three games and Robson again offered his resignation, an offer which the FA rejected for the second time. Robson’s last chance with England – Read more