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September 23, 2009

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Robson hailed as 'colossus'

BOBBY Robson was described as a "footballing colossus" as some of the sport's greatest names attended a memorial service for the former England manager on Monday.

More than 1,000 people, including Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and current England manager Fabio Capello, were at the service in Durham's 11th century cathedral to pay tribute to Robson who died in July aged 76 after a long battle with cancer.

Former players including Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker joined representatives from soccer's governing bodies FIFA and UEFA as well as Barcelona, one of the four overseas clubs he coached, inside the cathedral in Robson's native north east.

"This is a day to celebrate the life of a remarkable man and all he stood for," said the Bishop of Newcastle, Martin Wharton, a season-ticket holder at Newcastle United, the club Robson watched as a boy and then managed from 1999 to 2004. Under heavy damp, skies in the city's main square, more than 2,000 people paid their respects to a man described as "a footballing colossus" by Bishop Wharton.

The service was beamed live to Newcastle's St James' Park ground, Fulham's Craven Cottage in London, where he played and also managed, and Ipswich Town's Portman Road where he won the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981 before being appointed England manager in 1982.

Lineker, who led England's attack under Robson in both the 1986 and 1990 World Cups, said he was "the single most enthusiastic and passionate man I've ever met in football."

Ferguson spoke of Robson's generosity when he was still a young manager at Aberdeen which was drawn against Ipswich in the UEFA Cup. "He influenced me then and he will always influence me."


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