By Matt Dodd.
Throughout Bryan Robson’s career, he was a committed, talented, strong midfielder who would never shirk from a tackle. Now ‘Captain Marvel’ faces his hardest challenge of all.
The former Manchester United and England captain has undergone surgery in Bangkok to remove a cancerous tumour on his throat, and everyone connected with football wishes him the best.
And the man who was England captain until a few days ago, Rio Ferdinand, had the first of many comments of respect for Robson.
“All the best to Bryan Robson in his battle with throat cancer – a true battler throughout his career,” Ferdinand tweeted.
Man United signed Robson from West Bromwich Albion for a British record transfer fee of £1.5 million in 1981, a record which was not broken for six years. He made his first appearance for United wearing the number seven shirt, and made the shirt his own, which had been worn by past United greats such as George Best and was to be worn by future greats such as Eric Cantona and David Beckham.
One side of Robson’s excellent character was shown early in his United career when the Red Devils faced Brighton in the FA Cup final replay in 1983. Robson scored twice, but declined the opportunity to become the first player in 30 years to score an FA Cup final hat-trick. Instead, for the good of the team, he allowed regular penalty taker Arnold Muhren to covert the spot-kick which ensured Robson would lift his first ever trophy as United captain.
Robson’s loyalty to United was another reason why United fans worshiped him. Instead of signing for Juventus, Robson pledged his commitment to the club by signing a seven-year-deal. ‘Robbo’ captained United to another FA Cup triumph in 1985, this time over Everton.
Injuries, most notably a dislocated shoulder, restricted Robson’s appearances the following season, and it was not until 1990, under Alex Ferguson, that Robson could lift another trophy. He scored United’s first goal in another FA Cup final, over Crystal Palace in a 3-3 draw, before becoming the first United captain to lift the cup three times after a 1-0 replay win.
Since then, because of his age, injuries, and a new generation of talent coming through, Robson’s appearances were limited. However, he did manage just enough appearances to claim the Premier League title in 1992-93 and 1993-94 – the trophy he so desperately wanted to lift, and it was nothing less than he deserved.
Robson finished his career at Middlesbrough, when he joined as player-manager in 1994, after making 461 appearances for United, scoring one goal shy of 100.
He also gained 90 England caps, scoring 26 times, and Robbo will always be remembered for being a fantastic servant for club and country.
As well as Middlesbrough, Robson has also managed Bradford City, West Bromwich Albion, Sheffield United, and currently coaches the Thailand national team.
In addition to managing Thailand, Robson still finds the time to act as an ambassador for United. Robson has recently restated his commitment to both roles, and for this, he deserves the upmost respect.
Despite going through what must be an extremely worrying period of his life, Robson’s dedication to his responsibilities typifies why he become such an idol during his playing career.
A professional on the pitch and a gentleman off the pitch, Robson will have the best wishes from not just Manchester Untied fans, but all football fans, as he begins his brave battle against throat cancer.
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