Graham Roberts takes ‘good memories’ with him after Nepal national team departure

Western Morning News: Dig into the history of Yeovil Town, and the name of Graham Roberts will crop up on the list of the Somerset club’s past managers.

It is safe to say that the Hampshire man enjoyed greater fame as a player than he has done as a coach and a manager.Roberts did things the hard way in his playing career, overcoming rejection by his home-town club Southampton by proving himself in non-League football with Dorchester Town and then by going right to the top of the domestic game in England and Scotland with Tottenham, Chelsea and Rangers.

He won six full caps for England, too, but success at such a level did not follow him into his managerial career.

Yeovil were a non-League team when he was in charge of them from 1995 until 1998, and under him they slipped into what is now the Ryman League.

Roberts took two seasons to drag the Glovers back into the Conference as champions in 1997, but, back in non-League’s top flight, he did not last long.

A stop-start managerial career saw Roberts spend the 2005-06 season in charge of Scottish club Clyde, before he eventually went overseas. He spent a few months at the helm of the Pakistan national team in late 2010, before he turned up in the remote footballing outpost of Nepal.

The 52-year-old spent 14 months in charge of Nepal’s national team. He led his team to the second round of the 2014 World Cup Asia Zone qualifiers, in which a 9-0 thrashing by Jordan was a humbling experience, and to the last four of the South Asian Football Federation Cup in India last year.

He also oversaw qualification for this year’s Asian Football Confederation Challenge Cup finals on home soil, which did not go to plan. Three defeats in three games and a row with Nepal’s army about player availability prompted his departure this month.

He left with good grace, though. “I take home good memories from here. I made new friends. I got to know a lot of people. But in the end life goes on, and it’s time to move on. I will always have Nepal in my heart,” he told the Himalayan Times newspaper.

Under Roberts, Nepal played 17 matches and won six, lost seven and drew four. National team captain Sagar Thapa marked his exit by saying: “He shaped the team just the way a potter moulds a pot. I would like to thank him on behalf of the whole country.” The itinerant Englishman’s next port of call is yet to be revealed.

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