Mother's Day special: Football's top 10 most important mothers

1) George Best's mum Anne

Shy and softly-spoken, the mother of Manchester United's 1960s superstar stayed far from the limelight he craved. But Anne and her son shared a drink dependency which would kill them both, Anne first of heart problems related to alcoholism in 1978.

They are buried side-by-side in Belfast's Roselawn Cemetery, and their relationship formed the basis of a BBC film last year.

2) The Charlton brothers' mum Cissie

Once dubbed 'football's most famous mother', the gregarious and occasionally fearsome Cissie Charlton was the niece of Newcastle great Jackie Milburn and is credited with first spotting Bobby's precocious talent. Yet the two fell out spectacularly when Bobby married wife Norma, of whom Cissie once said "I do not accept her as a daughter-in-law", and a family feud began.

On one occasion, Bobby even failed to visit his mother despite holding a coaching clinic 250 yards from her Ashington flat. Cissie died in 1996 age 83, having not seen her son for over three years, her dying wish for a visit unfulfilled.

Jack Charlton, who took his mother's side despite long believing she had favoured his brother as a child, refused to speak to Sir Bobby for several years, finally healing their long rift at the 2008 BBC Sports Personality Of The Year awards.

3) Frank Lampard's mother Pat

Smiling and self-effacing, Pat Lampard was a constant presence at her son's football matches before her death from pneumonia in April 2008, at the age of 58.

While Frank was introduced to play the game by his footballer father, his mother encouraged his academic side and Lampard, widely regarded as among the most intelligent footballers, left school with nine GCSEs.

At a Football Writers' dinner earlier this year, Lampard admitted he had thought of quitting international football after being booed by England fans at Wembley, but was cleverly talked out of it by his mum.

4) Jamie Redknapp's mum Sandra

Twin sister of the late Pat Lampard, Mrs Redknapp is not only where Jamie clearly gets his looks but is the power behind husband Harry, who admits to being "totally dependent on her".

While her sister encouraged Frank to hit the books, Sandra had to look the other way as Jamie played truant to go training with his dad at Bournemouth. She said: "I knew what was happening. Harry used to go in late and take Jamie with him. Jamie said he was going to school but they must have thought I was stupid. I knew where he was really off to.

"Of course, I minded to a certain extent. Especially when I got Jamie's school reports. But then it didn't seem to matter so much when he became a footballer."

Mrs Redknapp - known to Harry as "My Sandra" - gained impromptu press coverage in the 2008/09 Premier League season when her old man was asked about a Darren Bent miss and quipped: “My missus could have scored from there!”

5) Cristiano Ronaldo's mum Dolores

While his late father Jose Dinis battled the alcoholism which would kill him in 2005, the brilliant Portuguese winger's formidable mother Dolores Aveiro is credited with providing Ronaldo with the confidence to succeed in football despite his size disadvantage early in his career.

Mrs Ronnie, who handles her son's finances and is often to be seen wearing clothing from her son's CR7 range, was spotted holding his hand as they crossed the road during his early days at Manchester United.

Then last year she nudged him toward Real Madrid, saying “Real is the best. Before I die I would like him to play for Real. I would really like that and then I could die. I wouldn't matter”.

6) Karren Brady

In between turning round the financial fortunes of Birmingham City and now West Ham United, holding directorships at Channel 4 and Mothercare, appearing on TV's The Apprentice, writing a newspaper column, battling a brain tumour and being a "devoted housewife" to Burton Albion manager Paul Peschisolido, the motivated and exacting Brady has somehow managed to fit in having two children, Sophia and Paulo.

7) Ashley Cole's mum Susan

After splitting with Cole's father Ron Callender when Ashley was three, the dedicated mother of two is praised for spotting and nurturing Ashley Cole's early potential.

In a recent interview, ex-husband Ron Callender said “Susan was the driving force behind his soccer career. He owes her everything”.

8) Robinho's mother Marina

The Brazilian forward nearly quit football in 2004 when his mother Marina was kidnapped by gangsters in Brazil after being snatched from a family barbecue.

Robinho – who became Britain's most expensive footballer in a £32.5 million switch from Real Madrid to Manchester City in 2008 - was forced to pay a £45,000 ransom for her release after she was held hostage for 40 days.

In an emotional statement Robinho said: “The days she was missing were the worst. I can hardly describe how horrible it was. I could barely eat... I wondered If my career was worth risking the safety of the people I love”.

(9) Jose Antonio Reyes' mum Mari

Signed from boyhood club Sevilla in 2004, Reyes left Spain in tears at the thought of having to leave his family behind. Within a week, the 20-year-old quickly moved mum Mari to his Cockfosters mansion, where visitors reported her cooking only Andalucian food, watching Spanish satellite TV channels and living with the heating turned up to balmy 80 degrees to recreate what Reyes called "a little corner of Spain".

It was all too much for girlfriend Remedios Rivas, who dumped him saying: "He fears his mother's reactions/ He fears to tell her that he wants to live his life and become independent. His mother controls his life and controls all his money. He does not even know how much he has in the bank.

"Reyes has no personality. I do not know if he will find a woman soon but I think any woman with him would face the same problem. His mother will always be in the middle."

Alas, the frustrating Reyes left Arsenal in the summer of 2007 despite his mother Mari's best culinary efforts. Later he had a row with his Atletico Madrid boss Javier Aguirre during which the player shouted: "I s**t on your mother".

10) Theo Walcott's mother Lynn

Midwife Lynn won a women's sport award last year after launching 'Mum's On The Ball', an initiative dedicated to the grassroots development of female football coaches.

She believes it's the mixture of her laid-back nature with dad Don's drive which makes Walcott a uniquely grounded player.

She said: "I realised Theo had a special talent when he was 13. I remember saying to (his father) Don: 'He's going to make it', but Mr Negative here said: 'No, we mustn't say that.'

"People kept telling us he was special for his age. There were lots of boys with skills, but the difference, we were told, was his character."

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