Remembering Sir Bobby Charlton: Football Legend’s Obituary | UK News

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“There has never been a more popular footballer,” former Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby said of Bobby Charlton.

Sir Bobby, an attacking midfielder, was “as close to perfect as a man and a player as it is possible to be,” added Sir Matt, who managed United for more than two decades.

With balance and grace, and a thunderous shot with either foot, he scored spectacular goals, winning the World Cup with England in 1966 and the European Cup with United two years later.

But these triumphs might never have come: in 1958, a plane crash in Munich decimated the ‘Busby Babes’ team, killing eight of Charlton’s young teammates.

At the time, just 20 years old, he was dragged from the plane by guard Harry Gregg after suffering a head injury.

It was difficult to process, with Sir Bobby writing in his autobiography: “All the time the question kept coming up: ‘Why me, why did I survive?’.”

“A champion on and off the field”

He and his teammates had won the first division title the previous year. Today, many of them were gone.

But he recovered to become United’s top scorer, with 249 goals, and England’s too, with 49, his record standing for 40 years until overtaken by Wayne Rooney.

He made 758 appearances for United between 1956 and 1973, playing alongside George Best and Denis Law in the so-called “Trinity”.

He also won three English league titles and an FA Cup with United.

Bobby Charlton was born in Ashington, Northumberland on October 11, 1937. His father was a coal miner. His older brother Jack also worked as a miner before also becoming a professional footballer with Leeds United.

Football seems to run in the family: Sir Bobby’s first cousin, Jackie Milburn, became one of the greatest players in Newcastle United’s history.

After impressing a United scout while playing for East Northumberland Boys on a frozen pitch in Jarrow, the shy 15-year-old quickly impressed at Old Trafford.

Initially signing for the club on New Year’s Day 1953, he abandoned his apprenticeship as an electrical engineer to turn professional in October 1954.

He won the FA Youth Cup three consecutive years until 1956, when he made his senior league debut against Charlton Athletic on 6 October, scoring twice in a 4–2 victory.

“One of the greatest players of all time”

At the 1966 World Cup, he scored a superb long-range goal in the group stage victory over Mexico and a brace in the semi-final defeat to Eusebio’s Portugal.

A calmer performance followed in the final against West Germany, but England triumphed 4-2 after extra time.

Charlton was named player of the tournament, winning the Ballon d’Or, while he also received the Ballon d’Or and the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award in 1966.

He made his 106th and final appearance for England in the 1970 World Cup quarter-final defeat to West Germany.

The 32-year-old was substituted after 70 minutes with England leading 2-1. They then lost 3-2 in overtime.

After leaving United, he worked briefly as player-manager at Preston and had a spell in Ireland with Waterford United.

Sir Bobby is survived by his wife Lady Norma and his daughters Suzanne and Andrea.

This article is originally published on nouvelles-du-monde.com

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