Beattie's tribute to his 'diamond dad'

YOU were my diamond dad.That was the verdict today from Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie as he prepared for Sir Bobby Robson's memorial service.

YOU were my diamond dad.

That was the verdict today from Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie as he prepared for Sir Bobby Robson's memorial service.

Beattie was arguably the most talented of a host of youngsters Robson brought through during his time in charge of Ipswich, and he was famously christened a 'diamond' by the man who died on July 31 aged 76.

“He was like a father to me,” said Beattie. “My diamond dad.

“I never thought I would become a footballer, but he looked after me from my first days at Portman Road and opened my eyes to what I could achieve.

“Not that I was a bad lad, but who knows where I would be now without him?

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“My three remaining brothers are on the dole in Carlisle, and along with my four sisters still live within half a mile of where we were born.

“The Boss, as I always call Sir Bobby, made that much difference to me. And he made similar impressions on the lives of so many more who were fortunate enough to cross his path.”

Even hard men like Beattie were finding it hard not to shed a tear as the service got under way.

“Suggestions that the Boss should be linked with Newcastle United ahead of Ipswich Town upset me as his heart remained in Ipswich even after he - as expected - finished his life among his native Geordies.

“The Boss was number one and although I also played under some other great managers he was head and shoulders above the rest.

“He had the ability to spot kids with talent and could see potential and so many internationals owe so much to him.

“When I went to the north east with John Wark to present the Boss with a cake for his 70th birthday it was like meeting up with my dad again.”

Beattie, who used to double his �5 a week apprentice wages by washing Sir Bobby's car outside the dressing rooms every Friday, recalled what made the man so special.

“I went to Liverpool for a trial and didn't see their manager Bill Shankly,” recalled Beattie. “When I caught the train to Euston the Boss sent Ipswich scout Ron Gray to meet me at the station.

“We stayed the night in a London hotel and Ron sat by the door all night in his long johns to stop me from doing a runner!

“I scored the winner in a 2-1 youth team win at Fulham the following day and saw my first sight of Ipswich in the coach after the game.

“The club put me in digs in Cheltenham Avenue and along with other young hopefuls spent the rest of the weekend watching TV.

“I didn't know where Ipswich was and didn't know what the Boss looked like until he made a point of introducing himself on Monday morning in the away team dressing room at Portman Road.

“From that moment I knew he cared, and I knew he was special even though it was 1969 and he was still struggling to make a managerial impact.

“Winning the FA Cup at Wembley is a wonderful memory he brought me, and scoring for England against Scotland at Wembley is also down to the Boss.

“So many people owe him so much and it will be an honour to celebrate his magnificent life today.”

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