Page last updated at 18:58 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 19:58 UK

Football greats honour Sir Bobby


Lineker pays tribute to Sir Bobby

Some of the biggest names in football have paid their respects to former England manager Sir Bobby Robson at a service at Durham Cathedral.

Sir Bobby died on 31 July aged 76 following a long battle against cancer.

The service was live on TV and was also beamed to thousands in Ipswich town centre and at St James' Park in Newcastle.

Gary Lineker said Sir Bobby was "gentlemanly, dignified and diplomatic, he never let his country down."

In his tribute, the former England striker said: "Bobby was not just a brilliant leader of men that brought the absolute best out of his players, but he was without question the single most enthusiastic and passionate man in football.

Paul Gascoigne hugs Gary Lineker
Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker were stars of Sir Bobby's 1990 team

"He made you feel good about yourself and good about the game.

"He loved the game and the game loved him. He was a lion of a man, no, make that three lions."

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said he was inspired to defer his retirement after advice from Sir Bobby.

Sir Alex said: "It was not a question, it was a demand. 'You're not retiring are you?'.

"'Of course I'm not' (I said). Not after he'd said that."

He said people admired Sir Bobby's "courage, dignity and enthusiasm" and would "forever" remember his "little jig" when England scored a last minute winner against Belgium in the 1990 World Cup.

He said: "Friends have said to me you should never finish a eulogy with a cliche such a 'we'll never see his like again'... but we won't."Former Fulham player Tom Wilson recalled Sir Bobby's early playing days and his love for North East England.

Cancer specialist Dr Ruth Plummer spoke about the foundation set up in Sir Bobby's name, which has so far raised £1.8m.

Footballers at the service for Sir Bobby
Many former England greats attended the ceremony

Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins sang Pie Jesu at the service, also attended by former England players including Paul Gascoigne, Terry Butcher, Alan Shearer, Bryan Robson, David Seaman, Stuart Pearce and Peter Beardsley.

Graham Taylor, Terry Venables, Sven Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello, who all managed England after Sir Bobby, were also there.

Other famous footballing figures paying their respects among the 1,000-strong congregation were Bobby and Jack Charlton, Harry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce, David Moyes, Mick McCarthy, Don Howe, Roy Keane, Howard Wilkinson, Niall Quinn, Lawrie McMenemy, John Wark and Paul Mariner.

Well-known figures from the North East who attended included TV presenters Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, actor Tim Healy and athletes Steve Cram and Brendan Foster.

The service closed with Tenors Unlimited singing Nessun Dorma, the opera aria which was the BBC theme tune for Italia 90 and became synonymous with the England team's World Cup campaign.

Graham Taylor, Sven Goran Eriksson and Fabio Cappello together at the service
Several of Sir Bobby's fellow England managers were at the service

After the memorial, Sir Bobby's son Andrew said he hoped the public service, which followed a private funeral last month, would help his family.

He said: "I think it was a final tribute to him and singing Nessun Dorma, which always will be associated with him, at the end of the service was very poignant."

Sir Bobby managed England from 1982 to 1990, taking the national side to the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and reaching the semi-finals four years later.

Before that he had led Ipswich Town to FA Cup and Uefa Cup success.

Following his time with England he had spells in charge of PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona, before returning to England to manage Newcastle United.

His final coaching role was as an assistant to Steve Staunton - who was also at the service - with the Republic of Ireland.

Sir Bobby won the Dutch and Portuguese league titles and the European Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta was also at Durham Cathedral for the invitation-only event.


Dr Ruth Plummer talks about Sir Bobby Robson's fundraising

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