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‘Greatest England player of all time’: Football pays tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton

The world of football has united to pay tribute to Manchester United and England legend Sir Bobby Charlton, who died on Saturday.

Charlton, who “passed away peacefully early in the morning” after being diagnosed with dementia in 2020, won three league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup during a glittering 17-year career at Old Trafford .

He also scored 49 goals in 106 appearances for the Three Lions, notably helping them win the World Cup in 1966.

“For me, (he is) the greatest England player of all time,” former England striker Gary Lineker told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“You can only judge the players you have seen in your life and I was lucky enough to watch him play when I was a young boy.

“He was one of my heroes, one of a lot of people’s heroes.”

Part of United’s ‘Holy Trinity’ alongside club legends Denis Law and George Best, Charlton scored twice in a famous 4-1 extra-time win over Benfica in the European Cup final 1968, as Sir Matt Busby’s team became the first English team on the continent. champions.

He was England’s top scorer until 2015, when Wayne Rooney surpassed the Ashington-born attacking midfielder’s tally of 49.

“When you read everything he has done in the game, the number of trophies he has won, the appearances he has made and the goals he has scored, he could have been excused for having a bit of arrogance about him,” said former Newcastle and England striker Alan Shearer.

“But there was absolutely none of that. If you hadn’t watched a football game and seen him play, you would just see him as a normal guy. I don’t think you’ll ever hear someone say bad word against him.”

England manager Gareth Southgate also paid glowing tribute to Charlton and said: “The privilege of meeting him on several occasions allowed me to understand his personal pride and emotion at having represented England, and simply confirmed in my mind his position among the gentlemen of the game.

“The world of football will unite in sadness at losing an undisputed legend.”

Former and current United players pay tribute

Manchester United players past and present were quick to pay tribute to Charlton, who survived the 1958 Munich air disaster which tragically claimed the lives of 23 people, including eight of his United teammates.

“Sir Bobby is the reason I got the opportunity to play for Manchester United,” said David Beckham, who made his first-team debut for the club at the age of 17 after attending Charlton football school. “I owe everything to Sir Bobby.”

Manchester United top scorer Rooney, who took charge of his first match as Birmingham City manager at Middlesbrough on Saturday, said: “I’m still in shock. As he came off at half-time of the second half , we heard the news.

“Winning the World Cup in ’66 and the European Cup in ’68 after what he went through with the Munich disaster, he had a great life. He’s an absolute great football legend.

“He’s an iconic figure around the world,” added Middlesbrough boss Michael Carrick, who spent 12 years at Old Trafford as a player.

“I was lucky enough to get to know him, feel his support and feel what Manchester United meant to him. It’s a position I never took for granted.”

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Stepney, another survivor of the accident at Munich’s former Riem Airport, wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “A huge loss to the game, a magnificent player and man . So many good times shared. Wish you Bobby, it was a privilege.”

The Red Devils paid their own tribute, describing Charlton as “one of the greatest and most loved players in our club’s history”.

“Sir Bobby was a hero to millions of people, not just in Manchester or the UK, but wherever football is played in the world,” they said.

“He was admired as much for his sportsmanship and integrity as for his exceptional qualities as a footballer; Sir Bobby will always be remembered as a giant of the game.”

What the rest of football said

Pep Guardiola, right, with Sir Bobby Charlton, left, in 2010, along with Johan Cruyff and Eusebio

Pep Guardiola, Manchester City coach: “A huge loss for his family and for the Manchester United family and for English football, European football.

“A great legend. On behalf of Manchester City, our condolences to his family, to Manchester United and to everyone because we have the Premier League that we have because of these types of people.”

Geoff Hurst, scorer of a hat-trick in the 1966 World Cup final: “Very sad news today. We will never forget him, any more than football as a whole. A great colleague and friend. He will be greatly missed by the whole country, beyond just sport.”

Prince William, President of the English Football Association: “Sir Bobby Charlton. First Division Champion. European Champion. World Champion. Gentleman. Legend. A true great who will be remembered forever. Thank you Sir Bobby.”

Rio Ferdinand: former England and Manchester United defender: “Sir Bobby. Icon, Legend, Great… these words are thrown by all of us to many people who don’t deserve them 100%, especially when compared to a man of Sir Bobby’s caliber.”

Gary Neville, former Manchester United defender: “One of the original Busby Babes. He won youth cups at Man Utd, then the European Cup, the World Cup and in the modern era he was manager of the club. There’s no doubt that he was the greatest player and ambassador of English football. A champion on and off the pitch.”

Martin Keown, former Arsenal defender: “He was a truly wonderful player and a huge talent. He was a great ambassador for Manchester United over the last few years. The way he carried himself – he was such a dignified man and he will be remembered for a very long time. “

Your own tributes

John, Brampton: Bobby Charlton was my childhood hero – and has been an inspiration ever since – a gentleman and a great sportsman. Thank you Bobby for all the magical moments you gave to so many England and Man Utd fans.

Stan: I have the privilege of seeing all of Bobby’s World Cup goals live on black and white television. He was a schoolboy hero in the 60s and 70s. So many children will have shouted his name while scoring in the schoolyard or against the garage door!

Jay, Milton Keynes: 106 caps and 49 goals in an era where friendly matches didn’t count, that’s all. The best of England. Thank you Sir Bobby Charlton.

David: Sir Bobby Charlton was the British footballer closest to royalty. The greatest ambassador we have ever had. Even those who are not interested in football knew him a lot. Rest in peace to a true legend.

Mark, Salford: Legend is a word used too loosely in the world of football and sports. What a legend this man was both to the club I love and to our country. RIP Sir Bobby Charlton, a true gentleman and a wonderful, wonderful player. They don’t make them look like Sir Bobby anymore.

Katie B, Stratford: Sir Bobby embodied the best, not only of United, but of football itself. A true gentleman.


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