THOUSANDS of football shirts left in tribute to Sir Bobby Robson will spread the love of the beautiful game across the world.
More than 6,000 items of football memorabilia were left by fans at Sir Bobby’s former clubs after his death in July, in an incredible outpouring of affection for the former England manager.
Now the items will be shipped around the world to help disadvantaged people.
Andrew Robson, Sir Bobby’s son, said: “My whole family was incredibly touched at the scenes that followed dad’s death.
“I took my two daughters to see the display of thousands of shirts and scarves at St James’ Park and it was truly amazing.
“There were so many personal messages dedicated to his memory. It was very moving – overwhelming really. My family and dad’s former clubs didn’t want to see any of that memorabilia go to waste. With help from charities who specialise in this type of activity, all the football shirts, scarves and flags which were laid with such respect will now go on to inspire a love of football all over the world.
“I think Dad would have been amazed that all these shirts were given in tribute to him and will now go out to Africa to help needy children and families.”
Three charities, Coaches Across Continents, KitAid and the RAF’s Taking Football to Africa and Beyond Appeal will distribute the tribute items in Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and Africa.
Mr Robson added: “I understand that receiving a football shirt can sometimes double the wardrobe of the recipient, which underlines the importance of getting them to where they are most needed.”
The tribute items are currently being stored at Ushaw College, which is close to Langley Park in County Durham, where Sir Bobby grew up and where he began his working life as an apprentice electrician down the pit.
The majority comes from St James’ Park where more than 2,500 shirts and 2,300 scarves were laid in remembrance during the 11 days the club was open for fans to pay their respects.
More than £30,000 was donated to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation by fans visiting St James’ Park after he died.
Newcastle United, Ipswich Town and West Bromwich Albion raised almost £80,000 between them for the charity, while the Football Association also donated £80,000 in Sir Bobby’s memory, which was a percentage of the gate receipts from this season’s Community Shield.
Squadron leader Neil Hope, who started the Taking Football to Africa and Beyond Appeal, said the quality of the shirts were incredible. He said: “This will mean that youngsters will have a strip, which will last them for a long, long time and they will be so grateful and pleased.”
For more on Sir Bobby, go to www.journallive.co.uk/sirbobby