Manchester United and the world of football mourn the loss of Sir Bobby Charlton, a legend who played a pivotal role in England’s 1966 World Cup victory.
Sir Bobby Charlton died at the age of 86 on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023. On Sunday, football fans gathered at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium to remember club legend and World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton.
A book of condolence has been opened at Old Trafford while a digital version has also been created.
Charlton is a Munich air disaster survivor who went on to become one of the greatest players the game has ever seen. He made 758 appearances for Manchester United, netting 249 goals over 17 years. His contributions led the club to three league titles, the FA Cup, and the European Cup, now known as the Champions League.
For England, Charlton earned 106 caps and scored 49 goals, a record that stood for 45 years until Wayne Rooney surpassed it in 2015. His brilliance on the field during the 1966 World Cup, where he scored three times, was instrumental in England’s only World Cup victory. This performance earned him the Ballon d’Or in 1966, solidifying his place among football greats like Pelé, Eusébio, Bobby Moore, Garrincha, and Franz Beckenbauer.
A Life of Triumph and Tragedy
Born in 1937, Charlton began his journey with Manchester United in 1956. Two years later, he faced a life-altering tragedy: the Munich air disaster. The crash claimed the lives of eight of his teammates, but Charlton survived. This event profoundly impacted his life and career. Under the guidance of the legendary manager, Matt Busby, Charlton became a cornerstone of the club’s resurgence, leading them to their first European title in 1968.
Tributes from the Football World
Manchester United, in their statement, described Charlton as a “hero to millions” and emphasized his sportsmanship and integrity. Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final, remembered Charlton as one of the “true greats.” Gary Neville, speaking on Sky Sports, hailed Charlton as “England’s greatest player and greatest ambassador.” UEFA also expressed their condolences, acknowledging Charlton as one of the game’s true legends.
A Life Beyond the Pitch
After retiring, Charlton served as Manchester United’s director for 39 years. The club honored him in 2016 by renaming Old Trafford’s South Stand as the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand. His older brother, Jack Charlton, another key figure in England’s World Cup-winning side, passed away in 2020.
Facing Personal Challenges
In 2020, it was revealed that Charlton had been diagnosed with dementia, making him the fifth member of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team to be diagnosed with the condition. His wife, Lady Norma, hoped that the knowledge of his diagnosis could aid others.
A Final Farewell
Sir Bobby Charlton’s passing marks the end of an era in football. His unparalleled achievements, character, and service to the sport will forever be remembered. As Manchester United aptly put it, his legacy will continue through the life-changing work of the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation. The world of football bids farewell to a true giant of the game.