A Lasting Legacy
Gary Rowan, Robert’s Brother“Not only was Robert my brother, he was also my best friend, someone I looked up to, someone whom we all did. Whether it was for a game of football, for a game of FIFA, for a coffee or even just to ask how I was getting on, Robert never failed to bring me a feeling of being cared for, being loved and just someone who enjoyed being in my company as much as I enjoyed being in his. Robert had all the time for those around him, anyone who had the pleasure of meeting him would have nothing but kind words to say of him. I’ll miss his smile, l’ll miss his jokes, I’ll miss his loving personality, but most importantly l’Il miss my big brother and my best friend.“
Matthew Benham, Brentford FC Owner & Friend“Not only was Rob warm and funny, he was fantastic at his job. He came to us four years ago and has done a variety of jobs but has mostly concentrated on the scouting of players. He understood the needs of the Club and his judgement was trusted by those he worked with.
A lot of the day-to-day work looking for players was done by Rob and there will be a legacy at Brentford in the players that he helped bring to us. When you run a Club as we do with a need to do transfer business to fund the ongoing costs you need someone as good as Rob. We were pleased we had him and saw a bright future for him with us.
He also did some fantastic work with the B Team. That was a role he loved and a lot of the success of that project so far is down to Rob and we want to continue his work over the coming years. That would be a great tribute to him.
Most of all, Rob was my friend. We would talk regularly and go for dinner and I would watch matches with him. I enjoyed being around him and I will miss him.”
Cliff Crown, Brentford FC Chairman“I’m writing today not as Chairman but as a friend and colleague to Rob Rowan because I wanted to make a very personal tribute to him.
I have known Rob for a little under four years but in that time he made a great impression on me. He represented everything we want to be at Brentford. A combination of huge commitment to his job, an instinctive knowledge of what makes a difference in football, and the ability to bring those attributes together in a way that put people at ease. We aim to be humble and he embodied humility effortlessly. Despite having achieved so much in a short career at Brentford, he never talked up his achievements and instead let his actions do the talking.
It is a huge understatement to say he was a popular figure at Griffin Park, Jersey Road and at Smartodds, where he was a regular visitor. Always quick to a smile, but in a quiet, unassuming way, he made colleagues into friends. He did that within our club and in the wider football world by being straightforward and always delivering on what he promised. Throughout the time he was here he took on new roles and responsibilities, and each time he did, he made us better. He was instrumental in bringing in a number of players and you will already have seen tributes they have written about their belief in him. It’s striking that while he had a huge amount of responsibilities, he was always available to stop for a chat and tell me what the B Team in particular were doing.
You may have seen me say many times, when staff or players have moved on that we come back stronger. I’ve always believed that before. However, with Rob, I can only say that without him, we are unquestionably less than we were. Nevertheless we will go on to achieve the dreams we shared together with Rob because of the work he did to put systems in place, the people he trained, and because that will be the best way to honour him.
Rest in peace, Big Man. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family.”
Rasmus Ankersen, Brentford FC Co-Director of Football“I left Loftus Road with Rob on Saturday after the game against QPR. As we walked to the car park in the pouring rain we were discussing the game and as usual sharing our views. I decided to change direction and jump on the tube to skip the heavy traffic, and we gave a high five and said goodbye. I had never imagined it was the last time I was going to see him.
Since I received the shocking phone call about his death on Monday morning those last minutes with Rob have played over and over in my mind. During the last three years Rob became an increasingly significant voice at Brentford FC. His contribution to the scouting department cannot be underestimated. He was a rare breed; not only was he highly respected by the traditional football people, he also won the trust of even the most nerdy data analysts. They all felt he spoke their language, and he understood how to combine objective and subjective information in an effective way.
At the same time, he was the social glue at the Training Ground. Someone trusted by everyone. Even though Rob hadn’t even turned 30, he was a guy people felt comfortable turning to when they wanted to share their ideas as well as their frustrations. This is a main reason why so many people at Brentford won’t just call Rob a colleague but also a friend.
At the same time Rob was incredibly ambitious. He had big dreams for his career, and he backed them with a strong work ethic. It was easy to feel that he wasn’t someone who had his success served with a silver spoon. A couple of weeks ago we met for lunch on a Sunday, and for the first time he shared with me his way into football; how he as a teenager drafted a scouting report and opportunistically walked to Celtic Park to present it. He got the job.
What Rob achieved in his short life had come through relentless dedication and a courage to go all-in. I experienced that mentality first hand. When we travelled together in our pursuit to convince new players to come to Brentford he was always prepared down to the smallest detail. Players immediately felt that, and many of them often said “You know me better than I know myself”.
Rob was also a joker. He gave us all nick names, and he was a master at breaking the ice with a funny comment, often armed with a good portion of self-deprecating humour. When we travelled together he was eager to teach me how to speak with proper Scottish accent and he guaranteed me it would increase my probability of success in life. In return I was trying to teach him how to drink proper black coffee, but eventually he remained loyal to his much-loved decaf latte.
In many ways Rob leaves a story that is worth telling. First and foremost he is an inspiration to many young people in football who don’t believe they can get a career without having played professional football themselves. Rob proved that it doesn’t have to be a limitation if you approach your dreams with the same dedication and courage as he did. On a more personal note, Rob will live on in our memories as a great friend. Right now it is very difficult to accept that he won’t be with us anymore. There is no doubt that I will miss him terribly, but I am sure that he would want us all to crack on and keep developing this special football club he was such a big part of. And we will. RIP Rob.
Mark Devlin, Brentford FC Chief Executive“Rob was first introduced to me as ‘a football geek who likes nothing better than to watch and analyse football matches long into the night’. They were almost right. Rob was anything but a geek. Right from the start Rob fitted in to the culture around the Club. Bright, enthusiastic, articulate and with a real passion and a great eye for finding young players who would fit in with what we, as a Club, were looking for.
Rob always had a smile on his face and clearly loved his work. He would go about his work in a passionate, yet understated, way and had time for everyone. He was well liked and well respected by everyone at the Club and by many outside of Brentford. I will miss him and our chats very much and we will all miss his presence and expertise.”
Chris Mepham, Defender“Rob was such a warm-hearted guy. He had a big role at the Club and a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, but he was always up for a laugh and could be a massive kid at times. Everyone gets stressed occasionally, but you never sensed it with Rob – he always had a smile on his face.
I’ve got so much to thank him for. I remember it was approaching one of the transfer windows and I’d played of lot of B Team football by this point – I would’ve been 18 or 19 at the time. I felt like it was the right stage to get out on loan and start playing competitive football. I was considering my options and needed to understand where the Club stood with me. I sat down with Rob and explained my thought process – I was adamant that I needed to head out on loan. He said: “Look, the Club has a plan for you. It’s hard to believe it now but we think you’ve got a really good chance of breaking through to the First Team. Give it time.” I remember walking away from that meeting feeling a little bit annoyed because I had my heart set on a loan move, but at the same time I never doubted what Rob said. I had a brilliant relationship with him and knew that he was a trustworthy person.
A couple of months later, Harlee Dean left for Birmingham. I remember being at the airport with Wales Under-21s – we were flying out to Switzerland for a game. I got a phone call from Rob who told me he had some good news. He said that the Club had been weighing up their options when it came to Harlee’s replacement, and felt that I was ready to step up and compete for a spot in the First Team. It was at that point that Rob told me the Club wanted to offer me a five-year contract. Looking back on my career so far, that’s one of the most significant moments and it was Rob who played a big part in the decision and broke the news to me. Everything he’d told me a couple of months earlier played out as he said it would.
Rob was always 100 per cent honest. I remember a B Team game against Man City at the Etihad Campus. I can’t remember the scoreline, but I know we lost – I think it might have been 5-2. Rob was there with Andy Scott watching the game. The following day I came in for training and he came up to me and asked me how I thought I’d played. I said that I didn’t have the best of games, he responded “You were f****** s***!” It didn’t come across as a dig – he always saw the funny side of things.
He was well respected among the football community; to achieve what he did by the age of 28 is unbelievable. He’ll be missed by everyone at Brentford.”
Nity Raj, General Counsel at Brentford FC and Trustee of Brentford FC Community Sports Trust“We started on a journey of supporting cardiac health following the tragic death of Technical Director, Rob Rowan in 2018. This alliance (HOWL) and the initiatives that are to come will serve as a lasting legacy to our friend.”