Chilean soccer player Jorge Robledo could never have guessed how his futbolero days in England would one day capture the imagination of a certain boy from Liverpool in 1952. Robledo and his club Newcastle United lifted the FA Cup trophy in May of that year over Arsenal, who they defeated thanks to Robledo’s goal – the only goal of the match. The Chilean’s goal was caught by various news photographers and replicated on crayon a month later by an 11 year-old John Lennon.
Lennon revealed his childhood tribute to Robledo and Newcastle forward Jackie Milburn, also pictured, to the world in 1974 when he used his drawing as the cover art for his album Walls And Bridges. Unfortunately, very few people recognized the significance of that drawing then, and it wasn’t until 2009 that Robledo would be metaphorically resurrected thanks to some fine sleuthing by Nestor Flores.
Flores is a Chilean writer currently working on a book about the death of Robledo’s brother, Ted, who boarded a cruise ship in Oman in 1970 and disappeared. The ship returned without him the following day. During his investigation, Flores received a number of archived photographs of the FA Cup final, including one of Jorge Robledo scoring the game winner against Arsenal.
“I didn’t go to bed until 1 in the morning that night,” Flores told Paola Molina for BBC World. “I thought to myself ‘I’ve seen this picture before somewhere.’”
He woke up roughly three hours later to the epiphany that the photo was the original inspiration for Lennon’s drawing. “I woke up, grabbed the album and compared it to the photo,” he continued. “They were exactly alike, save for a few small differences, since a child of 11 years of age, as Lennon was at the time, wouldn’t be able to perfectly duplicate a photograph.”
What shocked him even more was the fact that no one else had apparently come to his conclusion.
Sources differ on the facts, but Robledo was born in northern Chile (either Iquique or Alianza) and left Chile for England with his family at either age three or five. Robledo, who was known as George in the Queen’s country, began his soccer career as a wee lad with Huddersfield Town and Barnsley, before signing with Newcastle United in 1949.
George was a crack at NU and his 82 league goals as a foreign-born, non-British player set a record that remained intact until Dwight “The Smiling Assassin” Yorke showed up decades later. Robledo and his brother Ted left England and returned to Chile to play for Colo-Colo in 1953. Robledo quickly made a name for himself at his new club where he helped them win the league title twice and was the league’s leading scorer in his first two years at the club.