When the name Bobby Robson is brought up, it will be met by an exceptionally vocal and warm reception from any Newcastle fan. After all, Robson led the Magpies from staring relegation in the face to a top four finish and the Champions League on two occasions.
However, while that was incredibly impressive in itself, his greatest legacy lies away from the team that is now managed by Rafael Benitez.
His time at Ipswich Town will surely go down as the most successful of his career. He took over the club in 1969, but, incredibly, his installation as manager was an unplanned one. Ipswich Town director, Murray Sangster, was on a scouting mission for then Chelsea manager Dave Sexton. Instead of coming away with the intended target, Robson was the man that signed on the dotted line, and what an unintended signing it was.
The new Town boss oversaw four difficult seasons with Ipswich as the Suffolk side struggled. In modern football, this would have likely seen Robson sacked, or rumours that he would be if things didn’t take a sharp turn for the better.
That is why modern football would have deprived Ipswich of some truly superb moments. Robson’s side embarked on a fantastic cup run in 1978 as they knocked out Cardiff, Hartlepool, Bristol, Milwall and West Brom, you know, the cup giants that still dominate tournaments today. This earned them the right to face Arsenal in the final.
It was a game that was watched by 100,000 fans, and it saw Roger Osborne score the only goal with just over 10 minutes of time left to play. It sent the Ipswich fans into ecstasy and secured an unlikely FA Cup triumph.
Under Robson, Ipswich began playing some really attractive football, with this goal of the season candidate from Paul Mariner one such example:
— @forgottengoals (@forgottengoals) November 28, 2016
However, Robson’s greatest achievement with Town came in the UEFA Cup as they found themselves in a two-legged final against AZ Alkmaar. Perhaps their most impressive games came in their quarter-final victory over Saint Etienne, as they beat a side that boasted Michel Platitni 7-2 on aggregate.
But the silverware came as Ipswich went hammered AZ 3-0 in the first league at Portman Road as Robson lead his side to one of their best performances in front of their home fans.
However, it was a far more nervy affair come the second-leg, with AZ winning the game 4-2. Jos Jonker scored in the 73rd minute to make it 4-2 to the home side as the English fans held their breath, but they watched their side battle for the last 17 minutes for the greatest night in their history; think Martin Tyler’s comments following Chelsea’s Champions League triumph, only Ipswich didn’t throw hundreds of millions of pounds to win a European cup.
Robson went on to reportedly refuse a 10-year contract extension with the Tractor Boys as England came knocking for his service and he left, just like that.
He led the Three Lions to a semi-final in the 1990 World Cup, the best since Alf Ramsey’s winners in 1966, and he went on to manage at PSV, Barcelona and, of course, Newcastle, but his greatest legacy will forever be with Ipswich Town.
Robson sadly passed away in 2009, and with him, the most successful manager in Ipswich’s history was laid to rest. As a mark of respect from both Ipswich and Newcastle, statues were erected outside both stadiums, a lasting tribute to a truly football man.