Glenn Roeder, the former manager of West Ham, Newcastle and Norwich, died yesterday aged 65 following a long battle with a brain tumour.
A central defender during a 20-year playing career, his deftness of touch belied his lean frame of 6ft 1in. He was an Arsenal schoolboy before making his senior debut for Leyton Orient, later enjoying distinguished spells at QPR, Newcastle and Watford.
In 1982 he captained QPR in the FA Cup final against Tottenham, although he missed the replay defeat because of suspension.
Former Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder has died aged 65 after a battle with a brain tumour
Roeder also managed West Ham (above) along with Norwich, Gillingham and Watford
London-born and with the accent to boot, Roeder was nonetheless revered on Tyneside. The feeling was mutual.
‘We realised how friendly Geordies were when we lived there,’ Roeder said in 2006, shortly after being appointed Newcastle boss.
‘If your car didn’t start in the morning, three or four neighbours would come out and help you. In London they would come out, get in their car and say, “Bad luck”.’
Roeder joined Newcastle in 1983 and, alongside Kevin Keegan, helped the club win promotion to the top flight in his first season.
Roeder’s last job in football saw him take up the role of managerial advisor at Stevenage
Roeder also worked alongside England manager Glenn Hoddle (R) in the national team set-up
He was soon made captain and took a teenage Paul Gascoigne under his wing. For a couple of seasons, only Roeder could come close to the showboating of Gascoigne — the ‘Roeder shuffle’ remains the stuff of legend at St James’ Park. There weren’t many centre backs of that era who could send a striker into the low rows of the paddocks having sold him a step-over.
Roeder said it was his father, Victor, a semi-pro footballer, who taught him the move, and thereafter he was determined to make a life for himself in the game he loved.
‘My father told me there is only one in a million who makes it as a footballer,’ recalled Roeder. ‘I thought, “That is going to be me”. Football was all I ever did.’ Roeder, though, turned down the chance to tell his story in an autobiography on the principle he refused to profit from lurid tales of a young Gazza. The father-figure role he adopted was not merely confined to their days as team-mates.
Indeed, it was arranged for Roeder and his wife, Faith, to move to Rome when Gascoigne agreed to join Lazio in 1991. He would have been his mentor, had injury not struck and delayed the transfer.
Roeder (left) won the Intertoto Cup at Newcastle, the Magpies’ only trophy to date since 1969
Roeder (right) came through the youth ranks at Arsenal but joined Leyton Orient in 1973
It meant that Roeder instead began his career in management, as player-coach at Gillingham. He then spent three years at Watford and later coached under Glenn Hoddle with England.
It was while in charge of boyhood club West Ham in 2003 that Roeder collapsed and spent five days on a life-support machine, and so began his battle with a brain tumour. He left the club later that year.
Roeder returned to Newcastle as academy director before becoming caretaker manager with Alan Shearer by his side in 2006, guiding the team into Europe against all odds. It won him the job.
It was then, as a trainee on the local newspaper, that I interviewed him in his office to discover more about the man behind the manager. He talked for two hours about his upbringing, his wife and three children. You could tell he was a father, because he made it easy for a cub reporter.
Roeder reached the 1982 FA Cup final with QPR and captained Newcastle to promotion in 1984
Don Hutchison, who played under Roeder at West Ham, shared a touching tribute last night.
‘I’ll never ever forget when my dad was passing away. The gaffer told me to get in my car to Newcastle and go see him quick,’ Hutchison said. ‘Glenn was on the phone with me for all five hours of my journey!’
But it was perhaps the words of Nigel Pearson, his assistant boss at Newcastle, that captured the soul of Roeder the man. ‘He was a man with incredible integrity, humility, warmth, humour and humanity,’ said Pearson. ‘A sensitive, caring man who didn’t always have as high a regard for himself as others had for him. He was loved and admired by those who worked with him. I’ll miss you, my friend.’