(Image from Sky News).
England World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton passed away at age 86 on Saturday, 21 October.
Charlton won a total of 106 caps for England and scored 49 international goals, which were records for his country at the time. Moreover, during his seventeen-year-first-team career with United, he won three league titles, a European Cup, and an FA Cup (BBC, 2023).
Charlton’s family issued a statement, saying he “passed peacefully in the early hours of Saturday morning” (The Telegraph, 2023). They further went on to state that they wished to “pass on their thanks to everyone who has contributed to his care and for the many people who have loved and supported him”, and that “we would request that the family’s privacy be respected at this time” (BBC, 2023).
Tributes have since flooded the UK, where he has been hailed as “England’s greatest player” and “an undisputed legend” (BBC, 2023).
Bobby Charlton’s Legacy
Sir Robert Charlton CBE (11 October 1937 – 21 October 2023) was an English professional footballer who played as an attacking midfielder, central midfielder, and left winger. Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, he was a member of the England team that won the 1966 FIFA World Cup and was also the year he won the Ballon d’Or (and is the only year where England has won the FIFA World Cup) (History of Soccor, 2022).
Charlton played almost all of his club football at Manchester United, where he became renowned for his attacking instincts, passing abilities from midfield, ferocious long-range shot, fitness, and stamina (History of Soccor, 2022). He was cautioned only twice in his career; once against Argentina in the 1966 World Cup, and once in a language match against Chelsea (History of Soccor, 2022). This is particularly exceptional considering his long-standing football career of 17 years. He is also one of only nine players to have won the FIFA World Cup, the European Cup, and the Ballon d’Or (History of Soccor, 2022).
Charlton made his debut for the Manchester United first team in 1956, aged 18. He became a Football League First Division champion in 1957. He survived the Munich air disaster of February 1958 after being rescued by teammate Harry Gregg, which killed many of his fellow footballing colleagues.
Charlton continued his career with Manchester United, helping them win the FA Cup in 1963 and the Football League in 1965 and 1967; he also captained the team that won the European Cup in 1968 (History of Soccor, 2022). At the international level, Charlton was named in the England squad for four World Cups (1958, 1962, 1966, and 1970) and later retired from the England team in 1970. At the time of his retirement, Charlton was the nation’s most-capped player, having turned out 106 times at the highest level (RadioTimes, 2017). Charlton carried many other records until recent years: he was the long-time record goalscorer for both Manchester United and England until 2008; and he was United’s highest all-time goal scorer until 2017 (BBC, 2008). He is the third-highest goal-scorer for England, with his record of 49 goals only being beaten by Wayne Rooney in 2015, and then by Harry Kane in 2022 (Tottenham Hotspurs, 2022).
Tributes to the Football Star
Upon hearing the news, many have paid tribute to the football legend.
Manchester United stated Charlton ranked as “one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of our club” (Sky News, 2023).
They went on further to say: “He was admired as much for his sportsmanship and integrity as he was for his outstanding qualities as a footballer; Sir Bobby will always be remembered as a giant of the game. His unparalleled record of achievement, character and service will be forever etched in the history of Manchester United and English football and his legacy will live on through the life-changing work of the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation. The club’s heartfelt sympathies are with his wife Lady Norma, his daughters and grandchildren, and all who loved him.” (BBC, 2023).
Former England captain David Beckham has also praised “national hero” Sir Bobby Charlton. He wrote on Instagram: “It all began with Sir Bobby. […] I will forever be grateful to a man I was named after, someone I looked up to and was a hero to many around the world not just in Manchester and our country where he won the World Cup in 1966. A true gentleman, family man and truly a national hero […] Our thoughts go out to Lady Norma , there daughters and grandchildren x Rest in Peace Sir Bobby.” (Sky News, 2023).
“For me, [he is] England’s greatest ever player,” former England striker Gary Linker told BBC Radio 5 Live, “He was unique. Wherever you go in the world, even if they didn’t speak the language, they knew two words – Bobby Charlton (BBC, 2023).
England manager Gareth Southgate also paid a heartfelt tribute to Charlton and said: “The privilege of meeting him on several occasions allowed me to understand his personal pride and emotion in having represented England, and simply confirmed in my mind his standing as one of the gentlemen of the game. The world of football will unite in sadness at losing an undisputed legend.” (BBC, 2023).
Among the mourners was Prince William of England, who is also the English Football Association President. He stated: “Sir Bobby Charlton. First Division Champion. European Champion. World Champion. Gentleman. Legend. A true great who will be remembered forever. Thank you Sir Bobby.” (BBC, 2023).
Edited by: Shahnawaz Chodhry
Share This Post On
Leave a comment
You need to login to leave a comment. Log-in