Football

Goodbye to a 'real Geordie gentleman'

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Sir Bobby Robson's death at the age of 76 on Friday sparked an outpouring of emotion from the world of football at the loss of one of the game's most popular figures.

Prime Ministers past and present plus the FIFA and UEFA presidents paid tribute to Robson after he died at his home in County Durham on Friday morning following a long battle against cancer - it was the fifth bout he had fought in 17 years. His wife Elsie was by his bedside.

Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, described him as "a real Geordie gentleman", while Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, set the tone for the tributes by saying the world will be a lesser place without his fellow footballing knight.

Ferguson said: "In my 23 years working in England there is not a person I would put an inch above Bobby Robson. I mourn the passing of a great friend, a wonderful individual, a tremendous football man and somebody with passion and knowledge of the game that was unsurpassed.

"The world, not just the football world, will miss him. Let's hope it won't be long before another like him turns up because we could never get enough of them."

Jose Mourinho worked under Robson at Barcelona and the former Chelsea manager now at Inter Milan, said: "It is difficult to accept such a person is no longer with us - but he is immortal because he leaves in everybody who knows him a mark of his personality - a great coach but, more than that, a great person.

"I will always remember the everyday Bobby Robson, a man with an extraordinary passion for life and football, with a great enthusiasm."

FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini also expressed their tributes.

Blatter said: "On behalf of the worldwide football family, I would like to thank Sir Bobby Robson for his memorable contribution to the beautiful game."

Platini added: "He will be remembered not only for his playing career and his outstanding managerial career at both club and international level, but also because he was a truly warm and passionate human being."

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