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Page last updated at 09:32 GMT, Friday, 24 December 2010
Reading Football legend Robin Friday remembered
By Jenny Minard
BBC Berkshire Reporter

Robin Friday
Robin Friday played for Reading FC in the mid-1970s

The man voted Reading Football Club's greatest ever player died 20 years ago this week.

Robin Friday is a Royals legend - his life was cut short after years of drug and alcohol abuse and he was just 38 when he died in 1990.

Fans who saw him play said he was head and shoulders above any other man to wear a Reading shirt.

"As a player he was incredible," BBC Radio Berkshire's Sports Editor Tim Dellor said.

"He had incredible skills, strength and eye for the goal. He was everything you would want in a modern day footballer, but he had a little bit more than that because he had charisma.

"He was wild to put it mildly. People who lived in Reading and supported Reading would regard Robin Friday as their very own George Best."

Cult hero

Robin played for Reading between 1973 and 1976 - he scored 46 goals and made 121 appearances.

Then he moved to play for Cardiff City where, in 2004, he was voted as the club's all-time cult hero.

His former wife Lisa talked about what he was like as a husband.

"He was a very interesting character to live with. There was never a dull moment. My memories are really just constant partying and recovery."

However Lisa also suggests that a lot of what was written about Robin's drinking was fabricated.

"Obviously I saw another side from what most people saw. He could actually be a quiet and reserved character, believe it or not, once it was back to the beginning of the week and time to chill down."

Lisa said that the football world of the 70s was a different one to modern times.

"I think it was very 'un-waggish'. It was a more exciting life than you would have if you weren't married to a footballer.

"I used to think of him as a pied piper because wherever we used to go there was always a following of people. We used to have an entourage. It was just part of the job"

Wedding spectacular

Robin and Lisa's wedding day was something of a spectacular when they got married.

"We got married on a Saturday," she said. "He would have been playing in a home game and I think the crowd were so disappointed not to see him that they turned up at the church.

"When we left the church, you couldn't see either end of the Oxford Road. It was a sea of people so I think that made it much more exciting for me."

The couple had been separated for eight years when Lisa found out about his death.

"I remember when we found out. It was a devastating blow particularly for his age and the prowess he had for it to end so finally like that.

"The reason he's become such a legend is because he died so young and we won't ever know what may have come.

"Any death is sad, but particularly when it's a professional with that amount of skills."

Hear Tim Dellor's radio documentary about Robin Friday on Friday 24 December 2010.

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