“Brian Clough wasn’t known for writing letters,” he said. “But he sent me one saying ‘Be good. We love you. Brian and Barbara’.”
Sent to boarding school by a father who had been on 40 RAF bombing missions in the war, he grew up with plenty of fresh air and exercise and learned enough leadership skills on the field to end up running Central Television’s pioneering sports department.
He also loved being ITV’s foot-in-the-door reporter at live football matches.
Well paid for a job he adored, he covered seven World Cups, three Olympic Games and countless live football matches.
Mr Newbon also enjoyed fine dining, chomping on the odd cigar and having his fair share of booze, bacon and chips.
Add on the stress of constant travel – he’d get home from the jams around an Old Trafford Champions League tie at 3am – and something had to give.
Thanks to prompt, expert treatment, he was covering England’s international matches at the 2002 World Cup in Japan just five months later.
Still working regularly with new employers Sky Sports, he’ll celebrate his 67th birthday on March 15 with wife Kate and grown-up children Neil, an actor; Laurence, a cameraman at soccer matches; and their younger sister Claire, a freelance journalist and mother of near three-year-old Jake.
He added: “We had no idea that fried foods and chips were bad for us when we were growing up. We didn’t know about processed foods. Cancer covered over things.
“We were healthier because of games and sports but had no education about smoking, drinking and food.”
“Once you are over 50 you should have annual checks for bowel cancer and to check your prostate.
“Today, I don’t miss an opportunity for a check-up. I know I am not invincible any more. I take all my pills. Whatever they say, I will do it.
“My advice is that you don’t want to have one of these strokes, they can leave you paralysed. If you are obese, you will pay for it.”
>More information at www.stroke.org.uk