Sir Bobby Charlton - HLDivisionSport pay tribute to a footballing great

Published on 24 October 2023 at 13:00

Arguably the greatest England and Manchester United player ever to grace the beautiful game, Sir Bobby Charlton passed away aged 86 on Saturday 21st October 2023. Off the field he was renowned for his gentlemanly demeanour and modesty, where he leaves an eternal legacy behind.

Humble beginnings to European immortality

Born in Ashington Northumberland he joined Manchester United’s academy post World Cup, where he became part of the famous ‘Busby Babes’.

In 1956, aged 18-years-old he made his debut for Manchester United and shortly afterwards won the First Division in 1957.

He was renowned as an attacking playmaker who had a powerful long-range shot and incredible endurance. He was integral to his club’s quarter final victory in the European Cup against Red Star Belgrade, scoring two goals.

On the plane back from Belgrade; poor weather lead to his team’s plane crashing on the runway resulting in seven Manchester United players losing their lives. Charlton was retrieved from the wreckage by goalkeeper Harry Gregg and was the last survivor to be rescued in the 1958 Munich Air disaster tragedy.

He went on to be the fulcrum of Matt Busby’s re-build; and was later crowned 1965 and 1967 First Division winner as well as lifting the historic 1968 European Cup trophy.

It was an emotional night in the European Cup final, as it marked the 10-year anniversary after the Munich Air Disaster where the players paid homage to those who had died.

Charlton scored two goals for Manchester United against Benfica, where they became the first English team to win the esteemed European Cup.



World Cup Pandemonium

Charlton was one of two remaining World Cup final starters alongside Geoff Hurst, before his saddening death. He was called up to four World Cup’s for England and became their leading goal scorer for 39 years until Wayne Rooney surpassed his record of 49 goals in 2015.

Sir Alf Ramsey built his team around the midfielder prior to the 1966 World Cup and the OBE became talismanic in the tournament, scoring three goals on their journey to lifting the Jules Rimet trophy.

He retired in 1970, after 106 England caps and was later knighted in 1994 after his service to his club and country.


Later Life After Football

Charlton became a Manchester United hero when he retired from his boyhood club, making 758 appearances and scoring 249 goals.

He was the first of his kind, few players of his era emulated his longevity which was detriment to his hard-work and commitment. His appearance record stood for 35 years before Ryan Giggs broke it in 2008.

He is etched into an illustrious list of nine players to have won the World Cup, European Cup and Ballon D’Or.

In 1973 he became a player manager at Preston United, and shortly afterwards was appointed as director at Wigan Athletic.

In 1984 he became a director at his beloved Manchester United, where he served that position for 39 years. He was a genuine man of principles and he always prided himself to uptake a close relationship with the Manchester United fans.

His tragic passing due to dementia, has left the world mourning him but he has been immortalised throughout the country and will be remembered as an icon on and off the field.

Manchester United have opened a book of condolence for the public and on Manchester United’s Premier League game on Saturday black armbands were worn to pay tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton.

Thank you Sir Bobby Charlton

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