London. Former England manager Bobby Robson passed away on Friday after a long battle with cancer, with a statement issued on behalf of his family saying the 76-year-old died peacefully at home.
“It is with great sadness that it has been announced today that Bobby Robson has lost his long and courageous battle with cancer,” it read. “He died very peacefully this morning at his home in County Durham with his wife and family beside him.
“A thanksgiving service in celebration of Bobby’s life will be held at a later date for his many friends and colleagues.”
Robson, the son of a coal miner, was one of the most respected men in world football, enjoying a successful playing career with West Bromwich Albion and Fulham and earning 20 England caps before moving into coaching.
He carved out a reputation as one of the most astute young managers in England after taking over at unfashionable Ipswich Town in 1969, establishing it as a regular title challenger and winning the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981.
He was named England manager in 1982, and despite some troubled times he ended his eight-year reign by leading England to the World Cup semifinals in Italy in 1990, where it lost to West Germany in a penalty shootout.
On Sunday, Robson, who was suffering a fifth bout of cancer, this time in both lungs, was honored by a crowd of more than 30,000 at Newcastle United’s St. James’ Park who attended a match to raise money for his cancer charity.
While Robson was regarded like a favorite uncle by fans of his hometown club Newcastle, which he managed from 1999-2004, he will be remembered with affection around the world.
After finishing as England manager, he began a European odyssey with spells in charge of Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona before taking over at Newcastle. His final job in football was working with Ireland as a special consultant.
News of Robson’s death initiated a flood of tributes from within the game and further afield on Friday.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “I had the privilege of meeting Bobby on many occasions. He epitomized everything that is great about football in this country. His passion, patriotism, dedication and professionalism knew no equal during his time both as a player and a manager.
“Over the past few years, he fought cancer with his characteristic tenacity and good humor. He will be sorely missed — not only in Newcastle and Ipswich, both of whom he served with such devotion, but by all sports fans in our country.”
A minute’s silence was held before West Ham United’s match against Beijing Guo’an, while floral tributes were already accumulating outside Ipswich’s Portman Road stadium.
Flags were also flying at half-mast in the eastern England town and a Book of Remembrance was opened for fans. The club said there would be a two-minute silence before Friday’s friendly against Spanish club Real Valladolid.