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Farewell But Not Goodbye - Updated Edition Hardcover – 20 Aug 2009
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'This is a life of stunning variety and achievement.' (Observer)
'He is passionate and opinionated and ageless. He reminds us that life is a country he has seen and lived in and learnt from.' (The Sunday Times)
Commemorative edition of the remarkable life story of a sporting legend, Sir Bobby RobsonSee all Product description
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I originally bought this book for my partner who is a lifelong Newcastle supporter, but also decided to read it myself as I always liked Sir Bobby and he is a hero here in the North East.
Recent years had seen him launch the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation here in Newcastle, raising a lot of money for cancer care and building a new unit at the local hospital. The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation focuses on the early detection and treatment of cancer and the clinical trials of new drugs that will eventually beat it.
This autobiography was published in 2005, a year before cancer would strike Bobby again for the third time.
It tells of his humble beginnings growing up in Langley Park, Durham, his experiences of the war years as a child and then following in his hardworking father's footsteps working at Langley Park Colliery as a trainee electrician aged just 15 and a half.
Bobby was always a football fanatic, but the bright lights of Wembley and the Nou Camp were just a distant glow to him back then. The only bright light Bobby saw was from the lamp attached to his metal miners hat.
Bobby spent 18 months working underground and describes the dangers, feelings of claustrophobia and accidents during his time there in the dark shafts. Danger was part of the job, and thankfully Bobby never had an accident, although his father lost an eye. Bobby describes the hard work and the feeling of exhaustion at the end of a shift and having to go home and wash in a tin bath, as well as speaking of his work mates, the characters and the colliery humour.
He recalls during his first week he was asked to go to the workshop and ask for a 'long stand'. After asking the man behind the counter, he was told to go and stand in a corner. Half an hour passed before the man came back and asked him how long he had stood there for, and when Bobby replied "half an hour", the man said "Well there's your long stand then!"
Bobby worked hard, but his true passion was football and he always wanted to be a footballer. He would visit St James' Park with his father every other Saturday after the war to watch Newcastle play never dreaming he would ever play on 'the sacred turf'.
The book takes you through Bobby's playing career from signing for Fulham and playing for England to becoming a successful and much respected manager.
He relives leading England through two World Cups and the agony of coming within a penalty kick of the 1990 World Cup final. His story also takes in many countries, clubs from Ipswich to Barcelona and players such as Ronaldo, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer.
Bobby recalls his experiences with affection for the people he met, footballers he managed and staff he worked with. He tells of forming a special bond with a young Jose Mourinho who was his trusted lieutenant when managing in both Portugal and Spain. He speaks of Mourinho as a great ally and a brilliant student who could speak the language of the players.
He recalls the famous 'Hand of God' incident with Maradona at the World Cup in 1986 by saying he preferred to call it the 'Hand of a Rascal' and God had nothing to do with it. Whilst the world bought into Maradona's poetic description of the 'goal' that put England out of the tournament, Bobby never did and Maradona was diminished forever in his eyes from that day.
There a few anecdotes from the World Cup experiences of 1986 and 1990. Bobby speaks of how he handled Paul Gascoigne who was never far from his side, recalling his tears and what a hyper-active young lad he was.
There was sadness for Bobby as he tells of his departure from the England job and how ugly it was, marred by the disgraceful behaviour of the press.
Bobby looks back on all his experiences as both player and manager with warmth and humour, whilst always thankful for the life he has lead. A life that was struck with cancer from 1992.
Bobby credited his wife's 'nagging' about seeing a doctor for what he thought was a sinus problem, having suffered with a constantly blocked nose for some time. Bobby recalls how he thought the firm who made inhalant sticks never had a better customer than he.
After being sent to hospital to have his sinuses cleaned out, the debris was sent away for a biopsy and Bobby was told shortly afterward that he had cancer in his head, behind his face, below his eye.
That was just the beginning of a battle that saw Bobby fight off cancer five times. I found it remarkable the way he fought on, determined not to let this terrible disease win. He looked upon it as a result, stating after his second bout of cancer that so far it was a 2-0 victory to him. His strength of character really shines through in this section of the book.
Undeterred he went on to manage his beloved Newcastle United.
He had been away for 50 years when he was asked to manage the club and speaks in depth of 'going home' and the North East calling him back. Newcastle qualified for Europe and the final few chapters tell of his time managing Newcastle and his feelings and thoughts when he was sacked after 5 years in charge.
I was very interested to read this part of the book and the truth behind all the stories which circulated in the press around that time. I remember feeling heartly sorry for the man when Newcastle sacked him. I thought it was a disgrace how they handled the situation.
Bobby was shocked and saddened by how this came about, the stories in the press and how the whole situation was handled and speaks candidly about his experience.
Although Bobby was knighted by the Queen in 2002, he describes being granted the Freedom of the City of Newcastle Upon Tyne as the proudest moment of his life, stating he stood there 'full of personal emotion and humility'. In his speech, many people said they had never seen such emotion in a ceremony of that kind. Bobby attributed this to talking about his father, and how he went down into the pit white, and came up black, in an area where those two colours symbolise a city's love of football, a love that burned within him, and would never fade.
Bobby was renowned for his man-management skills which are evident time and time again when reading his story. These skills have seen many players pay tribute to what an amazing man he was. He was old-school with many values and beliefs which I feel is often missing from football these days as it all seems to be about money and lifestyles. There was a part which made me smile and sums this up when Bobby tells of an incident a few weeks after losing his job at Newcastle and Graeme Souness was now in charge. Patrick Kluivert was upset at losing an earring on the training field and Bobby quips that under him, he wouldn't have lost his earring as he wouldn't have been allowed to wear it in training in the first place!
The irony here was that Souness had been brought in to install a greater discipline into the players!
Overall I found this a fascinating book to read, it was often moving, as well as inspirational and written with pride and humility. I could not put it down until I had finished it.
Also included are many photographs in both black and white and colour, taken at various times throughout his life, from his early years to managing Newcastle, featuring Bobby, his family, friends, players and colleagues.
This autobiography provides a great insight into the football world, an amazing and successful career and also an insight into the man himself, a total gentleman, who will always be a legend to many people and never forgotten.
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Most recent customer reviews
Pity his life ended so soon.