Brentford Football Club will be remembering Technical Director Robert Rowan today, on his 30th birthday. Robert suffered a fatal cardiomyopathy episode in the early hours of Monday 12 November 2018 and died at the age of 28. He went to bed the night before and died in his sleep. He left behind his wife Suzanne, who he married in November 2016.
Robert had been Technical Director since February 2018 and had been with Brentford for just short of four years. He joined Brentford in late 2014 and was appointed as the Club’s Head of Football Operations in the summer of 2015. As well as managing the day-to-day football operations at Brentford’s Training Ground, Robert oversaw the strategic direction of Brentford B, the Club’s elite squad of players aged 17 to 21, before taking on the role of Technical Director.
We will mark his passing today at our game against Birmingham City on the first day of the 2020/21 Sky Bet Championship season. Our players will wear black armbands for the fixture and Robert’s friends and colleagues at the Club will mark his passing. Matthew Benham, Brentford FC Owner, was among those to write a tribute to Robert this week.
Matthew said: “Rob was a great bloke, very warm and funny. We chatted pretty much daily. Phil Giles had been very keen that we establish proper lines of communication within the club so initially he had suggested only he, Ras and the Head Coach should speak directly to me. But eventually Phil gave up trying to stop me and Rob chatting.
“Sooo many times since he died, I’ve caught myself thinking ‘I’ve gotta tell Rob about this...’. I still do, frequently.
“His ability to assess player potential was exceptional. I vividly remember him calling me when I was in a cab in north London, in late 2015, telling me about Ollie [Watkins], who had just broken into Exeter team. He was also very sure that Saïd [Benrahma] had the raw ability that could be developed into a top player like Eden Hazard
“He was responsible for setting up the B Team, of course, and helped to recruit many great players. For instance, I believe he travelled to Prague to convince a 17-year-old [Jan] Žambůrek to join us. We will feel the impact Rob made on Brentford and on all of us, for many, many years. Happy Birthday, Rob.”
Robert’s route to Brentford was an unusual one in football terms. He got his first break after writing a scouting report on the 2008 UEFA Champions’ League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona and sending it, unsolicited, to clubs in England and Scotland. He got a few replies and was invited to a meeting with Celtic, aged 18, impressing enough to be offered a job working with their Under-21 side.
After a year at Celtic, some time with the Scottish FA and a coaching course at Elmwood College in Cupar, Fife, which enabled Robert to spend time in Sweden – doing enough to earn a six-month job with a local club, he ended up working in a bank. But Robert was soon offered a job as Sporting Director at Stenhousemuir and that brought him to the attention of Brentford. He was invited for an interview in August 2014 and met with Frank McParland, Mark Warburton and David Weir – the senior football staff at the time – before Brentford played at Blackpool and then headed straight back to work in the bank.
Brentford called again and by the end of 2014 he was the Club’s Scouting Coordinator. David Weir played a big part in bringing Robert to the Club. He sent a tribute to him.
“I was involved in bringing Robert to Brentford,” explained David. “And I enjoyed working with him every day. I know how much he loved the Club. He was such a genuinely nice, as well as clever, guy and had a fantastic career ahead of him.
“I think about him a lot and miss the calls and catch ups we would have had. But I am sure I do not miss him as much as his wife and family do.”
When there was a change in management in the summer of 2015, he was named Head of Football Operations and was at the forefront of the new Brentford B, created in the summer of 2016. He was promoted to Technical Director at the start of 2018, a role he held until his untimely death. Join us today in remembering Robert, as well as keeping Suzanne and their families in your thoughts.
Nity Raj, one of the Brentford FC Directors, added: “Rob, two years on and we have reaped incredible rewards from all the work you put in. It’s been an amazing ride, but not the same without you. I feel sure that if you can see where we are now, you’d be very proud. We all still miss you, mate, and we remember you on your birthday, and always.”
Every week in the UK at least 12 young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions. Since its formation in 1995, CRY has been working to reduce the frequency of young sudden cardiac death (YSCD). CRY – which has former player, manager and Chief Scout Andy Scott as a patron – supports young people diagnosed with potentially life-threatening cardiac conditions and offers bereavement support to families affected by YSCD. For more information on CRY, click here and supporters can donate online in memory of Robert here.