It’s at this time of year that we should remember loved ones who are gone, and football definitely lost a great when Sir Bobby Robson passed away.
The former England, Barcelona and Newcastle manager died in 2009 but his legacy lives on in the shape of players he coach during a glittering, storied career.
One such player is Jermaine Jenas, who was signed by Robson for the Toon from Nottingham Forrest in 2002, and went on to represent England whilst under his tutelage at St James’s Park.
And the retired central midfielder has been strolling down memory lane today, recalling some one particularly sweet Christmas-themed story about his mentor.
In his column for BBC Sport, he wrote:
“The best Christmas party I have been to as a footballer was the first one I had at Newcastle in 2002, when Sir Bobby Robson was manager.”
“All the players had gone out in fancy dress to the Quayside in the city centre – I was Superman, Carl Cort was Batman and Kieron Dyer was Austin Powers.
“Then we found out that the club’s directors were having their own party at St James’ Park – a black-tie do with their wives.
“We decided we would gate-crash it, so we all piled into taxis to the stadium, ran upstairs and burst through the doors.
“It was a bit surreal. We were all running about this posh dinner and ball dressed as superheroes, then found Sir Bobby, said ‘all right, gaffer’ and sat at his table. Someone had his pint.
“He just looked at us and said: ‘Right, have one drink and get the hell out of here’.
“Nobody ever had a go at us for it. Even the next day Sir Bobby just laughed about it and said ‘you lot are a nightmare’.
“Sir Bobby was always a big believer in the players enjoying themselves and building team spirit.
“On the day I signed for Newcastle I was sitting in the boardroom with him and the then chairman Freddy Shepherd, and he told the chairman’s son to take me out that night.”
What a brilliant story! There’s certainly no one left in the game quite like Sir Bobby.