"His technique was second to none"
Bobby Robson believed his decision to sign Paul Mariner was one of the best he ever made during a lifetime in football.
Mariner arrived from Plymouth in October 1976 and went on to win FA Cup and UEFA Cup winner’s medals, as well as 35 England caps.
It was on the 20th anniversary of Town’s 1978 FA Cup win that the former Town boss – Sir Bobby by then – paid tribute to each of his Wembley heroes.
Talking about Mariner, he said: “Paul nearly got away. I was in a signing race with West Ham and it was such a relief that he accepted our offer ahead of theirs.
“He was just what we needed, a great leader of the line who had all the attributes of a top-class centre-forward. We were tipped off about him when he was at Plymouth and we all – the coaching staff, the scouts, myself – liked what we saw.
“Bobby Ferguson was worried that he might not score enough goals for us, and I could understand what he was getting at, but I just felt we had to get him. He joined us, did well straight away and in weeks Ron Greenwood was picking him for England.
“Paul had the lot. He wasn't just one of those strikers who could play with his back to goal, he could hold up the ball and could lay it back. He could twist and turn in those situations, sure, and rarely wasted a ball, but he could also play in behind the centre-halves. He was great in the air, he had that nasty, I-can-look-after-myself streak if he needed it and if he wasn’t getting into good goalscoring positions himself he was laying on chances for others.
“He was a good team player. You play the ball up to some strikers and they lose it, then you’re back defending again. But with Paul it stuck, because his technique was second to none. And he was brave – never saw the danger as he went in where it hurt. Definitely one of the best buys I’ve ever made in football.”
The Club will be honouring the iconic Blues number nine with Paul Mariner Day when Town host Plymouth Argyle at Portman Road on Saturday. Click here for more information.