Bobby Robson: More than a manager tells the story Sir Robert William Robson. He was born in County Durham in a true working class environment where football was not just a game but a way of life. As a child, his father would take him to every Newcastle Utd game always getting to the turnstiles three hours before the game instilling a passion for Newcastle Utd and football that would never waver. Bobby's professional football career spanned nearly twenty years. With twenty appearances for the England national team, he scored 137 goals for club and country.
But this is a man who was obsessed with football so he moved into management and shaped a career that is nothing short of legendary. Robson managed eight clubs across multiple countries bringing success to every single team. But he stamped his place in English history by being one of the most inspiring and successful managers in history. He managed the national team for eight years, taking them through two amazing world cups. They got to the last eight in the 1986 World Cup and the semifinals in the 1990 tournament.
The biggest thing about Bobby Robson was the man himself. Always true to himself, he was inspiring, dedicated and honest. He was a tremendous character but above all an old fashioned true gentleman with real integrity. This is something that comes through loud and clear in this feature documentary. The film is packed full of the biggest names in football giving their personal opinions of the great man. Unlike other doco's where you kind of get the feeling that the contributors are going through the motions, this is very different. Not one person has a bad thing to say only great praise for the person he was.
Jose Mourinho was Bobby's assistant manager at Barcelona. He gives some of the most openly touching admissions of love for the man. And coming from a person who is wrapped up in so much self-importance, these quotes tend to have more conviction. Pep Guardiola played at Barcelona during this period. He too describes how Bobby inspired him as a player but also to become a Manager. Clearly, this is Bobby's legacy. Inspiring many but also two of the greatest modern-day managers in the world today. Sir Alex Ferguson gives wonderful praise towards his friend and also describes how Bobby inspired him.
He was able to get the very best out of the players he coached and we get to hear about some of their relationships. Players like Ronaldo, Alan Shearer, Gary Lineker, Terry Butcher and Paul Gasgoine openly confess that their careers would not have been the same had they not have been given the guidance that they received from Bobby Robson. Paul Gasgoine is the person that tells the deepest of all the stories. He describes how Bobby kept in touch with him and supported him in dark times. Even though Bobby was battling cancer, he still put others first.
I have watched a lot of sports documentaries with most following the same formula. They plod along giving a bit by bit breakdown. But this is different. Directors Gabriel Clarke and Torquil Jones have set a new benchmark here. The only other sports documentary I have seen that is similar in delivery is Senna. Both blast along at an incredible pace keeping you gripped from start to finish. But more importantly they get the audience to connect with the person in a very honest touching way. One thing that is brilliantly done is that the directors chose to leap back and forth through the time-space of Bobby's life. As a result, this creates a greater layered picture of his journey and is just perfectly done.
I was generally aware of Bobby Robson but sadly was mostly shaped by the media which due to his good guy nature always attempted to bring him down. So I watched this with very open eyes and was totally blown away.
The finale of the film is a beautifully fitting tribute to this great man in his final days, still dedicating his time to others above himself. Both inspiring and incredibly touching are the final words from the famous contributors. Paul Gasgoine breaks down comparing him to Muhammed Ali – more than a manager – more than anything. Gary Lineker calls him the best English manager ever but a lump comes into the throat from the final words of Jose Mourinho:
“I remember him every day and I tell stories about him. We laugh with the stories, we remember him in the right way. I still think about him every day. A person only dies the day when the last person who loves him die.”
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