A FOOTBALLING icon but a family man at heart, Bobby Robson was happiest at home with his wife.
HE was an icon in the football world and a hero to his family. Sir Bobby Robson dedicated his time to others but the biggest love of his life was his wife, sons and grandchildren.
He married wife Elsie in 1955 and the pair stood the test of time. They remained devoted to each other through thick and thin.
The pair were extremely proud of their three sons and four grandchildren, while Elsie remained Sir Bobby’s rock throughout his career and illness.
Sir Bobby grew up in Langley Park, County Durham, a village he adored, with his four brothers.
He was brought up in a loving environment with his miner dad Philip and mother Lillian and passed his happy experiences as a child on to his own offspring.
Sir Bobby made sure home was where his heart was. Elsie is a former nurse and he always knew he was in the best hands when he returned from hospital after treatment to recuperate.
On many occasions when he spoke to journalists he talked of Elsie and his family about how he cherished his time with them when birthdays and Christmas came along.
He beamed with delight when the festive season was spent with sons Paul, 51, Andrew, 49, and Mark, 45 – and four grandchildren, Olivia, 19, Lucy, 15, Alexander, 17, and 12-year-old Isabelle.
Last Christmas he vowed to be here for Christmas 2009 and he said it was the love of his family that helped him battle on through his illness.
And, as usual, surrounded by his family for Christmas and New Year, Sir Bobby said he was determined not to be beaten by cancer so he could open his presents with Elsie, sons and grandchildren next year.
At the time he said: "I looked forward to Christmas very much, as I always do. I think Christmas is a time for families and, as usual, I spent the Christmas period with Lady Elsie, my children and grandchildren. I hope I can remain fit and strong throughout the coming year and I look forward to spending Christmas 2009 in my usual tradition, with my family."
Sadly, that wish was not to be, but he fulfilled his dreams by opening the Cancer Trial Research Centre that has become a legacy to the kind-hearted family man.
Friend and former Newcastle United captain Bob Moncur said: "He had two sides. Bobby was an icon in the football world and he was the man who dedicated his life to others. But he always was a dedicated family man and loved Elsie, his children and grandchildren."
Bobby died peacefully at home surrounded by the people he loved most. Their memories of him will remain in their hearts for ever.