Sir Bobby Charlton 1937-2023

Our tribute to the great man, who has passed away, by former FWA Chair Paul Hetherington

ENGLISH football yesterday lost its most famous player ever with the death of Sir Bobby Charlton at the age of 86.

The Manchester United legend, a key figure in England’s World Cup-winning team in 1966, had been suffering with dementia.

But his reputation and fame will live on as a true icon of the game, not only in this country, but also on the world stage.

Ashington-born Charlton had a claim to be the most-famous person in the world when he was at the height of his career.

You could travel anywhere in the world, say you lived in Manchester, and the response would be: “Ah, Bobby Charlton!”

He was a graceful, elegant football with dynamite in his boots through his explosive shooting.

Charlton won 106 England caps, scoring 49 goals for his country. We honoured him as the Footballer of the Year in 1966.

At United, he won three league titles, the FA Cup and the European Cup – and survived the Munich air disaster.

He became a director of the club he loved and was a dedicated representative of United.

On a personal level, I’ll remember him as helpful with an understanding of a journalist’s job.

I could phone him at home or at work and he would always take the call and co-operate on the story or feature on which I was working.

And whenever I asked him to speak at a Football Writers’ Association function, he always readily accepted the invitation.

There are a lot of reasons why Manchester United are arguably the most-famous club in the world. Sir Bobby Charlton is one of them.

He’ll be missed – but never forgotten.

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