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By ESPN Staff

Newcastle unveil Robson statue

Newcastle United have immortalised the late Sir Bobby Robson with a statue in his memory.

• Obituary: Sir Bobby Robson
• Toon still plan stadium name change

Former players and staff members joined manager Alan Pardew, Sir Bobby's window Lady Elsie and sons Andrew, Paul and Mark for the ceremony on Sunday morning.

The former England manager, who took the Magpies into the Champions League during his five-year spell at St James' Park, died in July 2009 at the age of 76 after a fifth battle with cancer.

Speaking at the unveiling, Lady Elsie, who was later presented with a bouquet by Pardew, told a crowd of several thousand Newcastle fans: "My husband often spoke of living a black-and-white life. It took him from the darkness of Langley Park Colliery to the bright glare of the floodlights. Black and white were the shades that always clung to him.

"When he left the North East as a young man to pursue his football career, the North East and Newcastle United never left him. It feels fitting that we should be standing on the hill that Bob used to walk up with his father and brothers on a Saturday afternoon to watch Albert Stubbins and his other boyhood heroes.

"It was here that Bob's great love affair with football began and here that he returned to proudly manage Newcastle. He helped them rebuild and eventually lifted them into Europe. He would be thrilled with the way Newcastle have performed this season, which is testament to the hard work and dedication of Alan Pardew, his staff and players.

"It was also Newcastle where Bobby built his final team, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, the charity he established to help people fighting with cancer, and that has now raised more than £4 million.

"Even from the depths of darkness, brightness can emerge. I would like to thank Newcastle United for this magnificent tribute to my husband and for their ongoing support for his charity."

The club's managing director Derek Llambias paid tribute to Sir Bobby and the part he played in bringing Newcastle back to prominence between 1999 and 2004.

He said: "There are only a handful of names in the history of Newcastle United that command the respect and recognition that Sir Bobby did.

Throughout the world of football, he was respected for his achievements as a player and as a manager and is held in the highest regard by everybody associated with the game, but here in the North East, he was a Geordie icon who helped change the history of this club.

"We are delighted to honour Sir Bobby Robson today. I'm sure you agree that this statue is a fitting tribute to a truly great man."

Former England internationals Paul Gascoigne and Peter Beardsley, as well as Gordon Milne and Charlie Woods, who worked with Sir Bobby during his spell on Tyneside, were in attendance, as was ex-Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn, a patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

The occasion was particularly special for goalkeeper Steve Harper and central defender Nikos Dabizas, members of the squad that took the Magpies on to the highest European stage.

Harper said of sculptor Tom Maley's nine-and-a-half-foot bronze statue: "It's fantastic. It's very fitting that the sun is out and it is unveiled before what will hopefully be a fantastic game.

"It's a game he would have loved as a manager and as a fan, which ultimately he was, a huge fan of football as well. It's a fantastic statue. Credit to the artist - it really does sum up Sir Bobby."

Dabizas added: "I am thrilled. It is something that he really deserves, it is the least you can do for someone like Sir Bobby. People always remember him, not as a manager, but as a man. He was a great person."


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