Football still has a gaping hole in it without the class of Sir Bobby
THEY always say you can't go too far in the world without bumping into a Geordie.
Well soon after checking into the Pestana Vila Sol resort near Newcastle United's Algarve base ahead of the XII Trofeo Guadiana in Portugal last week it was safe to say I felt pretty much at home straight away.
The venue is used to host Bobby Robson's charity events in Portugal. Robson of course left an impression in this country in the mid-1990s when he managed both Sporting Lisbon and FC Porto.
And given the first class facilities and tranquil surroundings that made it the ideal backdrop for pre-season, it's safe to say that Bobby would have given Alan Pardew's preparations the thumbs up.
Robson's charity work extends beyond English shores.
The golf tournaments in Portugal in aid of Refugio Aboim Ascensao - a children's charity which Robson visited during his final days before his sad passing three years ago.
A note from Lady Elsie Robson in the Pestana Vila Sol read: "Bob loved this tournament from the start and was proud of what it achieved.
"My sons and I wish for the tournament to live on for many years - to celebrate Bob's life."
Around the one of the café areas of Pestana Vila Sol, there is a host of memorabilia of stars who have played in the annual Sir Bobby Robson Golf Classic.
Alan Shearer has autographed an England, Rob Lee is also up there and Warren Barton amidst what feels like an A to Z of football stardom.
There are also obituaries in the building with memories of the great man - including one from former Newcastle scout Charlie Woods reflecting on his days at Ipswich when he turned down the chance to manage Sunderland.
He says: "Bobby stayed loyal to Ipswich.
"Everton and Sunderland came calling.
"But when England came calling it was a different matter.
"To manage your national side is the pinnacle and it was too good to turn down."
Woods also looked back on a chance meeting during his days as Blackburn coach and how he first began working for Robson, recalling: "Sir Bobby called me 'son' from day one right to the end.
"When he spotted me in the Bolton boardroom he said 'Are you happy son?', I said that I was.
"At the interval he asked me again, before saying 'I'm looking for a youth team coach - do I have to spell it out!'"
Other tributes come from his former Ipswich skipper Mick Mills who reflected on Bobby's human touch.
Mills aid: "We had our light hearted times.
"One time we stayed overnight for an away game.
"Bobby decided to go for a morning stroll after breakfast.
"Bobby borrowed a newspaper from one of the lads and soon got engrossed in the article.
"He failed to realise - although the players silently didn't and pointed out to each other - that he was heading for a golf bunker.
"Surely enough he stumbled and duly hit the deck.
"This was the cue for uncontrollable giggling from the lads.
"But Bobby played along, dusted himself down and instantly laughed it off.
"It was a brief humorous interlude, one of many we encountered, and did nothing to diminish our respect for him."
As we reach the third year anniversary since Bobby's passing in 2009, it quickly dawned on me as the sun shone through the thick palm trees at the Pestana Vila Sol that football still - and perhaps always will - have a gaping hole due to Robson's absence from the beautiful game.