Gazza: Bryan Robson is my ultimate hero
Iconic England midfielder Paul Gascoigne has paid tribute to former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson, describing our one-time no.7 as his ultimate hero and "the best player I've ever seen".
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The pair have been filmed catching up ahead of the release of a new film which celebrates the career of the legendary Bryan Robson.
Gascoigne's reverence for Robson is evident throughout, addressing him only as 'gaffer'.
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The pair played against each other many times, of course, but also worked together on several occasions, most notably with England and Middlesbrough.
Soon after leaving United, Robson became assistant manager with England, working under Terry Venables as the Three Lions reached the semi-finals of Euro 96. He combined that role with player-manager at Middlesbrough and, by the time Gascoigne arrived in the north-east in 1998, Robson had hung his boots up and focused solely on management.
For Gascoigne, it was the dream manager. Speaking directly to Robson, he explained that he had idolised him since watching him on the TV.
"He was on Match of the Day years ago, playing for West Bromwich Albion, and I remember he scored this header from about 18 yards out," Gascoigne said.
"I'm not going to mention his hair, big curly hair – but that was the goal that set me off and I said 'I love that player'. Since then I've just loved him to bits."
Robson was a regular for West Brom in the late '70s, while Gascoigne was developing into a fine footballer at Newcastle United.
While Robson joined United in 1982, Gascoigne began starting games regularly for Newcastle in 1985. The pair recalled their first few meetings on the pitch.
"I was playing against him for Newcastle," Gascoigne begins, remembering a 1986 fixture which United won 4-2.
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"I was 17, and they [United] got a penalty, and he scored it. He went past us, and I went 'great penalty, Bryan'. He just looked at me [as if] to say, 'you nugget'.
"And then I played against him again, and then we meet up for England, and he puts us under his wing. He said 'don't go for the headers because you can't head the ball and leave the tackles for me because you cannot tackle either'. I thought, that's the end of my England career!"
Robson, on the other hand, recalls a match at St. James' Park where he was completely helpless to stop Gascoigne.
Fast-forward a decade or so and Robson had become the 'gaffer' for Gascoigne.
"He joined in training and he was the best player in training," Gazza remembers, "and I said gaffer can you not play in midfield with us; he said the chairman wouldn't let him.
"For me, to leave a club like Glasgow Rangers, it would have only been the gaffer. I wouldn't have left for any manager.
"I'm in awe with him. He's my idol, always will be. I just love him in general, I always will do. Forget about Maradona, Pele... the gaffer's always been my best player ever seen. If I had a bit of Bryan Robson inside of us, in the player I was, I would have been untouchable."
It's a touching tribute from one of England's greats to another.
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The world premiere of ROBBO: The Bryan Robson Story will be held in Manchester on 25th November and screened in selected cinemas on 26th November.
The film will be available worldwide for digital download and to purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray from 29th November and is available for pre-order on Amazon from 16.00 today by following this link.