Couple had Sir Bobby, Jose and Andre in their living room

An Ipswich couple have told of the incredible moment when they were serving tea and cakes to Sir Bobby Robson, Jose Mourinho and Andre Villas-Boas in their living room.

Tony and Sandy Backhurst found themselves in the surreal situation when the new Chelsea manager spent more than a month observing George Burley during his time as manager of Ipswich.

An ambitious 16-year-old, Villas-Boas was staying with the couple, who work as landlords for young apprentices at the club, when he was visited by the Ipswich legend and the future boss of Real Madrid.

Mrs Backhurst said: “I remember whizzing around with cups of tea and pieces of fruit cake. Jose and Andre weren’t famous then but it is amazing to think they were all in our living room at the same time.”

Villas-Boas arrived in Suffolk as a fresh-faced, but determined youngster, who had already impressed Sir Bobby, and his assistant Mourinho, during his time with Porto.


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Mr Backhurst said: “It was a strange and brave thing for a 16-year-old to do but that is just a measure of his dedication. We were used to having young lads who would wear their club tracksuit, but suddenly we had someone who would go to the ground in a blazer and tie.

“He was certainly different, introverted but pleasant. When we left, I took him to the airport and I remember saying that I hope everything goes well for him and he has a good life. Well that has certainly come back to bite me!”

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The incredible links Chelsea’s new manager has with Ipswich continued through club archivist Pat Godbold who was giving a parting gift by the Premier League’s newest incumbent.

Godbold, who looked after Villas-Boas during his stay in Suffolk, was given a Portuguese cloth from the grateful youngster.

She said: “He was obviously an ambitious young man who knew where he wanted to go. He was determined to do well but he appreciated what Bobby and George did for him.

“I certainly wish him all the best. Ipswich will always be my team, but I hope Chelsea do well and maybe the two teams can play each other in the league real soon.”

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