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A Newcastle fan looks at the floral tributes to Sir Bobby Robson at St James' Park, Newcastle.
A Newcastle fan looks at the floral tributes to Sir Bobby Robson at St James' Park, Newcastle.

Tributes flow for Robson

Thousands of fans pay their tributes around England and the world as football continues to remember its ultimate gentleman.

Thousands of fans paid their tributes around England and the world as football continued to remember its ultimate gentleman, Sir Bobby Robson, who died on Friday. Tearful Newcastle fans converged on St James' Park, where Robson managed his boyhood club from 1999 to 2004, to pay their own respects by placing flowers, scarves and football shirts.

At Ipswich Town's Portman Road, scene of Robson's first managerial successes in the early 1980s, supporters laid shirts and flowers around the statue of their former coach. Robson will perhaps be best remembered for his eight years in charge of England, and Paul Gascoigne, whose tears became one of the iconic images of the 1990 World Cup, admitted he could not stop crying when he learned Robson had finally lost his long fight against cancer.

Gascoigne broke into the England team while Robson, a fellow Geordie, was in charge and was one of the stars of the 1990 tournament as England reached the semi-finals. He was booked in the match against West Germany and could not hold back the tears as he realised he would be suspended for the final, although England never made it as they lost out on penalties. Robson helped console Gascoigne after the match and the 42-year-old former Newcastle, Tottenham and Lazio midfielder was even more emotional after learning of his old mentor's death.

Gascoigne told ITV News: "I'm speechless. I'm devastated. Bobby was like my second dad. I was like a son to him. I can't describe how much he meant to me. "He gave me a chance to play in the World Cup. I can't really talk that much because I just want to cry, that's all. I love him. And his wife Elsie - I'll always be there for her. I'm sort of numb." Former England coach Sven Goran Eriksson and Barcelona's Pep Guardiola joined the tributes to Robson. Eriksson, who has recently joined Notts County as director of football, managed England between 2001 and 2006, but first met Robson when the Swede was unknown.

"He was beyond football a great man, one of the kindest people I ever met," Eriksson said. "He helped me a great deal when I was a young coach and I visited him in Ipswich. He took me, an unknown coach from Sweden, down into the dugout and explained the tactics. The year after Ipswich won the Uefa Cup [in 1981], my team Gothenburg won it and he came and presented the trophy to me. "It seems he was as friendly to everybody as he was to me. In fact for me, he was the special one."

Guardiola was a Barcelona midfielder when Robson arrived at Camp Nou in 1996. "It was a pleasure to know him, not only as a coach but also as a person. It was a marvellous experience," said Guardiola. Barcelona held a minute's silence before last night's game against Los Angeles Galaxy at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. twoods@thenational.ae

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