It was a night Sir Bobby Robson would have loved as friends, family, football colleagues and world-renowned entertainers celebrated what would have been his 80th birthday at his spiritual home of Newcastle in the north-east of England.
Sir Bobby, who was in charge of England when they reached the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup™ in 1990, was also manager of some of Europe’s finest clubs, including FC Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, FC Porto and Newcastle United. He died following a long and courageous fight against cancer in July 2009.
He established The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation a year before he died, providing cancer treatment funds for various local hospitals and also the Cancer Trials Research Centre. So far the Foundation has raised £4.7 million.
FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter, who posthumously awarded Sir Bobby the FIFA Fair Play Award in 2009, sent a donation to Sir Bobby’s widow Lady Elsie to give to the Foundation. The evening was also in support of The Alan Shearer Foundation.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is doing exceptionally well. I guess that’s thanks to Dad and his career and what people thought of him.
Featuring videos of the last interviews Sir Bobby gave, the evening on 18 February was a celebration of his life in football and some of the best-known UK artists from the north east of England performed some of his favourite music.
Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits was joined on stage by opera singer Russell Watson, Ruby Turner, talent show star Joe McElderry, comedians Paul Whitehouse and Alistair McGowan, plus current Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew and two of his players, Shola Ameobi and Steve Harper, and Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas-Boas, who spoke about how Sir Bobby encouraged him as a teenager and introduced him to coaching at FC Porto. Also in attendance was Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill.
Sir Bobby’s son Mark Robson said: “It was an absolutely incredible night of music, sport and comedy. There were just so many performers. We’re very thankful to them. We’re just so grateful to everyone who helped make the night so special.
“The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is doing exceptionally well. I guess that’s thanks to Dad and his career and what people thought of him and we’re going to keep it going. It keeps my mum, my brothers and I very busy.”