Manchester United and England great Bobby Charlton dies aged 86

Charlton was a key member of England’s victorious 1966 World Cup team and also enjoyed great success at club level with United, who became the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968.  Celtic had won that trophy in Lisbon a year previously.

The statement added: “His family would like to pass on their thanks to everyone who has contributed to his care and for the many people who have loved and supported him.

Bobby Charlton learned his trade with the Manchester United Youth Academy.

“We would request that the family’s privacy be respected at this time.”

Charlton’s European Cup success at United came 10 years after the Munich air disaster, which he and team manager Matt Busby survived but which claimed the lives of eight of Charlton’s team-mates.

Born in the coal mining town of Ashington on October 1,  1937, Charlton played in the World Cup final alongside his brother Jack, who died aged 85 in 2020, and won 106 caps for England, scoring 49 goals.

He made his debut for United in 1956 and went on to play 758 matches for the Red Devils, scoring 249 goals. Both were long-standing club records until they were overtaken by Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney respectively.

Charlton won three league three titles and one FA Cup at Old Trafford and, after leaving United in 1973 and becoming Preston manager, he returned to Old Trafford 11 years later as a club director. He was knighted for services to football in 1994.

“Manchester United are in mourning following the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of our club,” the Premier League club said in a statement.

“Sir Bobby was a hero to millions, not just in Manchester, or the United Kingdom, but wherever football is played around the world.

“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.

“A graduate of our youth Academy, Sir Bobby played 758 games and scored 249 goals during 17 years as a Manchester United player, winning the European Cup, three league titles and the FA Cup. For England, he won 106 caps and scored 49 goals for England, and won the 1966 World Cup.

“Following his retirement, he went on to serve the club with distinction as a director for 39 years. 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.”

Charlton was diagnosed with dementia and the announcement of his condition made public in November 2020.

The announcement came two days after his United and England team-mate Nobby Stiles died following his own battle with the illness.

Paying tribute to Charlton, the Premier League said: “The Premier League is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the greatest players in English football history.

“Our thoughts and sincere condolences go to Sir Bobby’s family and friends, and to all at Manchester United.”

Charlton made his England debut against Scotland at Hampden Park in April 1958, just over two months after he had survived the Munich air disaster.

He was not selected for England’s 1958 World Cup squad that summer, but played at the tournament in 1962, 1966 and 1970.

Charlton scored three times at the 1966 World Cup, including both goals in the 2-1 semi-final victory over Portugal, and ended his England career at the age of 32 following the quarter-final exit to West Germany in 1970.

“It is with a heavy heart that we have learned of the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton,” the official England account tweeted.

“An integral part of our 1966 FIFA World Cup winning campaign, Sir Bobby won 106 caps and scored 49 times for the #ThreeLions.

“A true legend of our game. We will never forget you, Sir Bobby.”

In its own tribute, Uefa added: “On behalf of the entire European football community, we are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the game’s true greats. Rest in peace, Sir Bobby.”

Manchester United players past and present described Charlton as “one of the best of all time”.

Midfielder Casemiro posted on X: “European Cup winner, World Cup winner, Ballon d’Or winner and one of the greatest Manchester United players of all time.

“Lifting the European Cup of 1968 with Red Devils was an absolute milestone for the legendary history of our club.

“Rest In Peace Sir Bobby Charlton.”

United great Eric Cantona posted on Instagram: “Rest in Peace dear Sir Bobby Charlton. One of the best of all time.”

Attacking midfielder Juan Mata, who played for United from 2014 to 2022, tweeted: “Rest in peace Sir Bobby, absolute LEGEND.”

So far as I know, Bobby Charlton never played in Dumbarton, but he did visit the area with his lovely wife, Lady Norma, as a guest of Roddy Whiteford, of Cameron House Hotel. The couple thoroughly enjoyed a visit to the Scottish Open Golf championship at Loch Lomond Golf Club and enjoyed lunch after a sail around the islands. 

I had met Sir Bobby previously when I was his guest at Old Trafford for the United v Tottenham Hotspur match after a young Dumbarton lad won a prize of a course at Sir Bobby’s own coaching school in Manchester.  He was modest to a fault and greatly appreciative of his day out in Dumbarton. Editor

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