Football stars unite for Sir Bobby tribute
A GALAXY of football stars came together today to give thanks for the life of Sir Bobby Robson, one of the game's best-loved figures.Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello and Sir Bobby Charlton were among the 1,000 invited guests who filled Durham's magnificent Norman cathedral for the 2pm service, as well as Ipswich boss Roy Keane.
A GALAXY of football stars came together today to give thanks for the life of Sir Bobby Robson, one of the game's best-loved figures.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello and Sir Bobby Charlton were among the 1,000 invited guests who filled Durham's magnificent Norman cathedral for the 2pm service, as well as Ipswich boss Roy Keane.
Former players including Gary Lineker, Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer and Stuart Pearce were also in attendance at the event, held seven weeks after Sir Bobby died aged 76 at home in nearby Langley Park.
Also attending were Sam Allardyce, Mick McCarthy and showbusiness duo Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly.
One of Sir Bobby's other great triumphs away from football - helping to raise around �1.8 million for his foundation which funds research into the early detection of cancer - was represented by his oncologist, Dr Ruth Plummer, who recruited him to raise money.
Locals gathered at the winding medieval approach to the cathedral before the event, hoping for a glimpse of some of football's biggest names.
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Pep Guardiola, manager of European champions Barcelona and a player under Sir Bobby there in the mid '90s, was expected to represent the proud Catalan club.
Olympic silver medallist Steve Cram was also among the arrivals.
Former Fulham player Tom Wilson recalled Sir Bobby's early playing days and his love for his "beloved' north east of England.
He said: 'Friends have said to me you should never finish a eulogy with a cliche such as we'll never see his like again - but we won't.'
Lineker, who led England's frontline during Robson's reign, said: 'I had the extreme good fortune to reach my peak at the same time as Bobby Robson was the England manager.
"Two World Cup campaigns and a European championships over a six-year period was easily enough time for me to realise that Bobby was indeed not just a brilliant leader of men who brought the absolute best out of his players but also, without question, the single most enthusiastic and passionate man I ever met in football.'
Lineker finished his eulogy saying: 'He loved the game and the game loved him. He was a lion of a man. No, make that three lions. Sir Bobby Robson, we will miss you but we will never, ever forget you.'
Sir Alex said Sir Bobby never forgot his roots in the North East.
He told the congregation: "He never forgot that. He always knew his roots. Fantastic that he would do that, not to change his entire life. It's a great talent that, not to change, to be the same person.''
The Manchester United manager spoke of Sir Bobby's enthusiasm for football and remembered many times when they would speak about the game together.
'He never lost that enthusiasm,'' he said. 'That enthusiasm, you just can't explain it, special people have got it.
'I think I speak for almost everyone here in football terms, he influenced me but what made him so special was he influenced people who didn't know him. They admired his courage, his dignity, his enthusiasm.''
The legendary manager ended his eulogy by saying: 'It has been one of the privileges of my life to have met him and to have been enthused by him.
"He influenced me then and he's always influenced me.''