Sir Bobby receives lifetime honour
FORMER Ipswich Town and England manager Sir Bobby Robson was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony tonight.
SIR Bobby Robson stole the show at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards in Birmingham last night. Boxer Joe Calzaghe won the big prize - but the evening belonged to Sir Bobby.
The former Ipswich Town and England manager received an emotional standing ovation as he made his way to the stage to receive his lifetime achievement award.
Sir Bobby, now 74, received the award from another footballing knight, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, at the NEC in Birmingham.
He was joined on stage by former Ipswich Town players, including his captain Mick Mills, FA Cup goal-scoring hero Roger Osborne, George Burley, Allan Hunter, Terry Butcher and Russell Osman. Current Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks and manager Jim Magilton were also present along with Charlie Woods, who worked with Sir Bobby at Ipswich and Newcastle United, as well as several former England players.
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Sir Bobby, who is now club president of Ipswich Town, described it as a “terrific honour” and said he was “totally flattered” to receive the award.
Looking frail after his latest battle with cancer, Sir Bobby was clearly emotional as the 8,000 strong audience gave him a three-minute standing ovation.
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He thanked all the players who have played for him during his distinguished managerial career, joking that it would take him 17 years to name them all, before adding: “Thank you for one of the greatest evenings of my life.”
He also paid tribute to his parents, and said that, had his father Philip still been alive, “he would have somersaulted all the way to Durham” to attend the ceremony. Sir Bobby's wife of 52 years, Elsie, watched from the audience as he received his award.
Sir Alex described Sir Bobby as a “fantastic man, fantastic person and one of the greatest ambassadors we have had in the game”. He said his undying enthusiasm for the game was “a miracle”.
Robson recently stood down from his consultancy role with the Republic of Ireland side.
Writing in his column in a Sunday newspaper yesterday, Sir Bobby said: “I am going to be more active in my role as president of Ipswich Town, I may stay involved with the FAI in some capacity given the closeness of our relationship and I will be watching as many games as possible.”
The standing ovation spoke volumes. 8,000 people, many of them sporting heroes themselves, were united in their admiration for Sir Bobby Robson.
The applause raised the roof at the NEC, and it went on and on and on. The man they were feting stood on stage, looking slightly bewildered, and quite emotional. But, most of all, Sir Bobby Robson was a proud man.
There can have been no more deserving recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sir Bobby has literally devoted his whole lifetime to football, and last night's award was richly deserved recognition.
He is an old man now, and quite frail after his courageous battles with cancer. But the fire still burns within. He spoke with passion about his love for the game, and the many talents he has played with or managed.
Was it just the imagination, or is the most special footballing place in his heart still reserved for Ipswich Town? Sir Bobby, we salute you.