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Opinion

Imagine…there was no George Robledo

1 week ago
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George Robledo was born in Iquique, Chile to a native father and an English mother.

Due to the political instability in Chile, the family moved to Yorkshire when George was a boy, and this is where the romantic tale of Jorge Robledo Oliver started.

He began his career at Huddersfield as a part-time player, combining football with coalmining.

Having never made a first-team appearance for the Terriers, before signing for Newcastle United (via a fine spell at Barnsley where he scored 45 League goals in 105 appearances) for a fee of £26,500 in 1949.

(***George’s brother Ted was also signed as part of the deal at his brother’s insistence.)

George’s first league goal for Newcastle was the winner in the Tyne and Wear derby a month later. Little did he know that hero worship was just around the corner, and he was about to strike up one of the great Newcastle United goalscoring partnerships, with ‘Wor’ Jackie Milburn.

He helped bring back the FA Cup in successive seasons in 1951 and 1952, and scored the only goal of the game against the mighty Arsenal in the second of those finals.

(***This George Robledo goal was immortalised by a young John Lennon, who included his drawing of the goal as an 11 year old, in the artwork for his 1974 album ‘Walls and Bridges’.)

George Robledo was the first non-British registered player to be top league scorer in a season (1951/52) in England, when he scored 33 goals (this is still the highest amount for a foreign player in the top division).

It was also the season he equalled Hughie Gallagher’s 39 goals (a club record at the time in all competitions).

He scored 82 league goals in 146 appearances for Newcastle (91 in total) for the Magpies.

This made George the highest goalscoring overseas non-Irish player in the history of the English top flight (a record not broken till almost fifty years later by Dwight Yorke).

At the end of the 1952-53 season, Ted Robledo left Newcastle after making 37 league appearance, to join Colo-Colo in the brothers’ native Chile.

George would soon follow in a £25,000 deal and was top goalscorer in the Chilean League in his first two seasons.

He represented Chile 31 times, making his debut against England at the FIFA World Cup in 1950, brother Ted also made the national squad for the 1957 South American Championships.

After retiring from football in 1961, George Robledo lived out his life peacefully in Viña del Mar, where he died of a heart attack in 1989, and was survived by his wife and daughter.

Brother Ted had perished almost twenty years earlier, when he went missing whilst working aboard an oil tanker sailing out of Dubai.

A commemorative blue plaque was put up at the brothers’ old house at 5 Ridgeway, Fenham on 3rd May 2022, exactly seventy years since George’s winning Wembley goal.

George’s daughter Elizabeth flew over for the ceremony and during her trip was a guest of honour at St James Park.

Now no one living on ‘chilly’ Tyneside should ever forget, the first two South American brothers to play together on English soil.

HTL

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