A FORMER graduate of Wallsend Boys’ Club cannot hide the admiration he holds for the inspirational Sir Bobby Robson.
Robbie Elliott, who grew from his excellent grounding at the North Tyneside club to become a stalwart of Newcastle United’s defence before also enjoying a spell at neighbours Sunderland, said: “There is not one person in the world wherever you go that has a bad word against him. It’s remarkable really.
“His name is gold wherever you go and he was just a phenomenal man.”
This recognition came during a major fundraising challenge undertaken by Elliott and his good friend Phil Gray.
It’s fair to say the ex-England, Barcelona, Ipswich, Porto, PSV Eindhoven, Fulham and Newcastle United boss has left a lasting impression on Elliott, a full back who cut his teeth with the Magpies under Kevin Keegan before returning for a second spell under Sir Bobby. Indeed, Robson made such an impression on the former left back that it was immediately the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation that Elliott picked when he decided to undertake a challenge to raise money for charity.
‘Bike for Bobby’ was that challenge, a mammoth 3,500-mile bike ride across Europe, taking in all of Sir Bobby’s former clubs.
Seeing the good feeling towards his former manager everywhere they turned during the ride was what kept Elliott and his cycling companion Phil Gray going at times during three gruelling weeks.
“It really opened my eyes when we cycled through other countries,” said Elliott.
“He hadn’t managed in Spain in tens of years, but you mention his name in Spain and people’s eyes light up.
“It really is incredible to see how he’s touched people throughout Europe.”
From one European adventure to another and while riding, Elliott would often think back to playing in Europe during his days with the Magpies.
That is something that still fills him with great pride and he says captaining the team away in France as Newcastle ran out 4-0 winners against Sochaux in the UEFA Cup is a night he will never forget.
He added: “I just hope Newcastle will pick up a bit in terms of their league form and then when they come back to the Europa League in February, they’ll be able to give it a right good go, because there are some fantastic teams in the competition and Newcastle on their day can beat anyone.”
With 13-goal striker Demba Ba leaving the club to join European Champions Chelsea, the Magpies are now a striker light in an already stretched squad, which Elliott feels needs bolstering if his former team are to be a success in the second half of the season.
“Newcastle would be foolish not to strengthen in January, even if it’s a case of getting a couple of good loan players in but with Newcastle you just never know what’s around the corner, but that’s why the fans love the club so much,” he said.
Building on the achievements of ‘Bike For Bobby’, Elliott says he is now more determined than ever to make his own foundation – the Robbie Elliott Foundation – as much of a success as the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
“The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is absolutely incredible. I started up the Robbie Elliott Foundation because we’re trying to make a difference with cancer and that’s something that touches me and touches my family,” he said. “We’re just looking to make that little difference.”