Sir Bobby’s legacy lives on

SIR Bobby Robson has been credited for the amazing role he played in guiding the fledgling career of Europa League-winning Porto boss Andre Villas-Boas.

A FULL 30 years on after Robson led Ipswich to their magnificent UEFA Cup triumph – an achievement celebrated by your Evening Star later this month – the latest manager to taste success in the competition has played a poignant tribute to the legendary former Town boss who gave him his first break in the game.

Villas-Boas, who also gained experience under George Burley at Ipswich, said: “(Sir Bobby) was decisive in my career. I never had the opportunity to say farewell to him. I’d like to dedicate this to him and his wife, Elsie, and thank him for everything he’s done for me.

“Bobby allowed a 16-year-old to approach him and talk about football tactics with him. Then he took me to training, watching training sessions.

“He had that respect for a young boy who had just approached him in an apartment block in Porto.”

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The sought-after Villas-Boas led Porto to the Europa League thanks to Falcao’s 44th-minute header in the 1-0 win over Portuguese rivals Braga in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Wednesday night.

Villas-Boas first came to Robson’s attention when, as a 16-year-old aspiring journalist, he wrote to then-Porto boss urging him to play striker Domingos Paciencia, who ironically is now the Braga coach.

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Villas-Boas said: “Fortunately, Robson took me to the club and got me on training courses in England and Scotland. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here – but with you on the other side of the barricades.

Immediately after the cup final win, Villas-Boas paid tribute to Robson, and also the roles played by Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, who he worked with at Porto, Chelseas and Inter Milan.

The tribute to Robson was all the more fitting as this year marks the 30th anniversary of Town’s own UEFA Cup success before the tournament was converted into the Europa League.

The Blues’ particular triumph will be honoured with a special anniversary celebration organised by the Evening Star, Ipswich Borough Council and the football club and attended by a host of Town heroes from that victorious 1981 campaign.

This season, Villas-Boas, 33, became the first Portuguese coach to guide a side through a Liga season unbeaten and also won the Portuguese Super Cup. He has been forced to play down speculation linking him with a move away from Portugal – with Chelsea reportedly monitoring his progress.

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