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Friday, 13 April, 2001, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Nostalgic return for Robson
Bobby Robson hasn't been back to Portman Road for 19 years
Robson hasn't been back to Portman Road for 19 years
Bobby Robson will lead his Newcastle team out at Ipswich Town on Saturday in what promises to be an emotional return.

But the 68-year-old will be forgiven for putting nostalgia to one side as he returns to the club where he made his name in charge of a Newcastle side desperate for points.

Ipswich, under the management of George Burley, are flying high in the Premiership in the club's most successful period since Robson sat in the home dugout.

The Geordie spent almost 14 years at Portman Road, winning both the FA and Uefa Cups, in what was to prove just the beginning of a spectacular management career.

Robson in his Ipswich days
Robson in his Ipswich days
Born in 1933, Robson began his footballing career nearly 50 years ago.

After a playing career that took in spells at Middlesbrough, Fulham and West Bromich Albion as well as 20 England caps, his managerial career began in 1967 at Canadian side, Vancouver Whitecaps.

He returned to Fulham as a manager in 1968, but was sacked after only 10 months.

Then in 1969 Robson was appointed manager of Ipswich Town, where he would spend the next 13 years in the most successful period in the club's history.

Although he struggled to lift the Suffolk club from the bottom end of the old First Division in his first three years in charge, for the next 10 years the team would only finished outside the top six once.

Players such as Burley, Mick Mills, Paul Mariner, Terry Butcher, and the Dutchman Arnold Muhren played the kind of football that Portman Road had only previously dreamed of.

In 1978, Robson led the team to FA Cup victory, beating favourites Arsenal in the final.

Three years later, they were unlucky runners-up in the 1981 championship race to Aston Villa, but crowned the season by lifting the Uefa Cup, beating Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.

Robson recalls: "They were really great days, but my last day was a defeat which cost me the championship, so it's a sad memory.

"Had I won the League on that Saturday when Liverpool pipped us and I was leaving to go to England, it would have been the perfect finish for any manager, but Nottingham Forest beat us 3-2.

"It would have been the most marvellous of hat-tricks, the English Cup, a European cup and to win the championship.

"I lost the championship in my last two years there on the last day. If you asked me what was the biggest regret at Ipswich, it's that we never won the First Division, we were never champions."

Robson was offered the England post in 1982, replacing Ron Greenwood.

Success with England proved difficult to attain, but in retrospect Robson has been the most successful England manager since Sir Alf Ramsey.

Mick Mills leads Ipswich out in the 1981 Uefa Cup final
Mick Mills leads Ipswich out in the 1981 Uefa Cup final
He led the national team to the quarter-final of the 1986 World Cup finals, where they lost to Argentina and Maradona's infamous 'Hand of God' goal.

Two years later, England crashed out of the first round of the European Championships, losing all three group games, and the media began to call for Robson's head.

But the defiant Geordie remained in charge, and led England to a thrilling Italia 90 World Cup campaign, where they came agonisingly close to a final spot, losing to West Germany in a semi-final penalty shoot-out.

England's World Cup success brought the manager to the attention of Europe's top clubs, and after stepping down as national manager Robson took over at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.

After two successful years in Holland which included two league titles and the discovery of Brazilians Romario and Ronaldo, Robson moved on to Sporting Lisbon.

With Sporting standing at the top of the league, Robson was controversially sacked after crashing out of the Uefa Cup.

Staying in Portugal, Robson took the helm of rivals FC Porto where he won the Portuguese Cup (against Sporting) and successive League titles.

Then in 1996, Robson moved to Barcelona, signing Ronaldo for a then world record 12m.

In 1997 he won the European Cup Winners' Cup but he was replaced as team manager by Louis van Gaal and took up a position as general manager.

Frustrated by the lack of hands-on involvement, he then returned to PSV on one-year contract, taking the club to a Champions League spot.

In 1999, Robson's beloved Magpies sacked Ruud Gullit and sent out an SOS to the then 66-year-old Robson to rescue the club from relegation.

Back in charge of an English club for the first time in 17 years, Robson has applied himself to the task of stabilizing a Newcastle team in crisis, earning himself an extended contract in the process.

Robson's standing in the English game was evident again last year when, after the resignation of Kevin Keegan, the FA wanted to approached him about becoming England manager on a part-time basis.

But the Newcastle board refused to let the FA even talk to Robson, fearing they might lose him.

Now, still in charge of the Magpies, Robson returns on Saturday to the scene where it all began.

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21 Oct 00 |  World Cup 2002
English football's elder statesman
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