In the last 20 years of his long life, Sir Bobby was seen and seldom heard. So it’s refreshing to see this lovely clip: United’s European Cup win in 1999, seen though the eyes of the first English club captain to experience that feeling.
Sir Bobby Charlton dies at age of 86: tributes paid to ‘England’s greatest player’ – live | Bobby Charlton
In case you missed the link lower down, here’s an elegant tribute from Richard Williams, our former chief sportswriter. One gleaming detail among many: Bobby Charlton’s school football team in the north-east played in shorts made from black-out curtains”. To go straight to the piece, click here.
A fan writes. “I have been a fan of Manchester United for 60 years,” says Pamela Rees, “and of Bobby Charlton.
“I remember watching the World Cup final in 1966 and the pride I felt. He was my hero for all those years. You will be missed, Bobby – thank you for all the wonderful memories.”
The latest tribute is from Pep Guardiola, who was born in 1971, only two years before Charlton played his last game for United. “When he retired, I was born so I saw the highlights,” Pep said. “I am sorry to the Manchester United family, to his family and England.
“These types of players and personalities represent English football like no-one else can do it. Condolences from us for his family especially. Next week when we go there (to Old Trafford), we will be present to make a tribute.
“I love this country for many things but one of the things is how they take care of the legends. They are part of the club and they travel. Sir Bobby Charlton represented United and English football unlike anyone else.”
David Beckham has paid tribute to Bobby Charlton, very warmly, on Instagram. The system here seems disinclined to link to it, so here’s a tweet picking it up.
Pat Crerand played just behind Bobby Charlton in United’s midfield. This is how he reacted to the news today, according to his son and namesake.
Alongside all that success, Bobby Charlton’s career also contained more than its share of disappointment. In his final season as a player at Old Trafford, Manchester United were relegated. (He was still the leading scorer, with seven goals. And went on to score ten more for Preston North End.) He had the pleasure of seeing United rise again, as they had after Munich, and this time, of course, it led to a spell of lasting success, including two more European Cups to add to the one he lifted. But again he stuck around long enough to see the empire crumble, sitting stoically in his hat and coat as Alex Ferguson’s many successors found different ways to mess up.
Here’s the founder of the leading United fanzine, United We Stand.
Brazil international Casemiro is among those following in Charlton’s footsteps as part of today’s United midfield. He has tweeted his own tribute …
With tributes understandably still pouring in, here’s Tim de Lisle to take over this blog. Thanks for reading.
Broadcaster Danny Baker tweets: “When I was a kid he was the most exciting footballer in the world to me. More than George Best. More than Pele.”
Baker’s fellow broadcaster and former colleague Danny Kelly adds …
The current England manager, Gareth Southgate, echoes talk of a real “gentleman” of the game, adding that Charlton was “an undisputed legend”:
One of our most iconic players, Sir Bobby Charlton’s impact on our only World Cup triumph is there for all to see. 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 its sadness at losing an undisputed legend.
Here’s Paul Wilson on Charlton’s greatest games. Eight years before World Cup glory, it includes a choice result at Hampden Park …
19 April 1958: Scotland 0 England 4
Selected on the left wing, Charlton thought he had been called up for England too soon. “I think they felt sorry for me because of Munich,” the 20-year-old said.
England nevertheless took the young United player to the first of his four World Cups in 1958, and though Charlton never made it on to the pitch in Sweden he did mark his international debut with a goal in front of 134,000 at Hampden. It was the type of goal he would score on many more occasions for England, running on to a pass from Tom Finney and hitting a powerful shot on the run, but a Scottish audience had the pleasure of witnessing the first.
“I can still remember the sound of the ball lashing against the net,” Charlton recalled. “After that all you could hear was silence.”
Read all six here …
Another former England international, Jamie Carragher, says Charlton was an “absolute gentleman whenever I met him”. The ex-Liverpool captain echoes Gary Lineker’s assessment: “No doubt for me the greatest English player of all time.”
Charlton’s story seemed to reach down into the very roots of English football … in the place where they grow deepest: the north-east. His father was a coalminer in Ashington, Northumberland. Young Bobby sometimes accompanied his dad to the pit head on a Friday, when he picked up his wages. The boy saw men coming up from the mine shafts covered in coal dust and looking happy to be out. The men waiting to replace them at the face looked miserable. That would not be his destiny, nor that of his elder brother, Jack, who was to share his greatest day. They were, after all, second cousins on their mother’s side to the great Jackie Milburn of Newcastle United and England. Four of Cissie Charlton’s brothers were also professionals. It was in the blood.
For Bobby, football overshadowed birds-nesting, fishing and every other recreation of a childhood in a mining town surrounded by countryside. At his school, the football team played in crimson shirts with laces at the neck and shorts made from black-out curtains. He was marked out early and signed up to United’s ground staff at 15. You can only imagine Matt Busby pinching himself to ensure he was not dreaming as he watched Charlton join Duncan Edwards, another divinely anointed prodigy, in the first team.
Read more here …
With the on-pitch action beginning to wind down this afternoon in England, other clubs have been paying their own tributes.
Liverpool, who beat Everton earlier today in the Merseyside derby, tweeted: “Rest in peace, Sir Bobby Charlton. A true footballing great whose legacy will live on. The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Sir Bobby’s family, friends and everyone at Manchester United.”
Arsenal tweeted that the club is “deeply saddened” to hear the news, while Chelsea have sent “thoughts and prayers are with all of his family, friends and those at Manchester United at this difficult time”.
Ferdinand was the winning captain in the 2008 Champions League final. That night, United beat Chelsea on penalties after the game finished 1-1 after extra time. He goes on to say that Charlton’s presence at the final, at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, made the winning moment all the sweeter …
The words he shared with me at the bottom of those stairs in Moscow, before I went up to lift the CL trophy will stay with me forever. What it meant to lift that trophy for Man Utd, what it meant for the fans, what it meant for us as a team and what it now meant for myself doing it as captain.
It was a privilege for me to even get that moment with him at that specific time.
Thank you Sir Bobby. Mr Manchester United RIP
Rio Ferdinand was on TNT Sports punditry duty for today’s lunchtime kick-off in the Premier League at Anfield. The former Manchester United and England defender said Charlton was always there for his team, “win, lose or draw” …
Icon, Legend, Great! these words are thrown around by all of us to many who 100% don’t deserve them, especially when you compare them to man of Sir Bobby’s calibre.
What a true gentleman of not many words, but when he spoke you stood still, stopped what you were doing and listened. A lot of the history was living and breathing through him and he was a constant at the club while I was there – travelling with us all over the world.
Win, lose or draw he would be in the changing room wishing us well.
Following Charlton’s passing, Geoff Hurst is now the sole surviving member of England’s 1966 World Cup final victory. The former West Ham star was the hat-trick hero of the 4-2 victory that day 57 years ago, including that late goal. Hurst, now 81, posted his own tribute on social media …
Very sad news today … one of the true greats Sir Bobby Charlton has passed away. We will never forget him and nor will all of football. A great colleague and friend he will be sorely missed by all of the country beyond sport alone. Condolences to his family and friends
Gary Neville, like Lineker a broadcaster and former England international, salutes Sir Bobby as United’s “greatest ambassador” …
So sorry to hear the news of Sir Bobby Charlton. The Greatest English Football player and Manchester United’s greatest ambassador. A champion on and off the pitch and a Busby Babe that paved the way for all to come at United. Rest In Peace Sir Bobby
Gary Lineker has added his thoughts on the man he says is “England’s greatest ever” …
Deeply saddened to hear that Sir Bobby Charlton has died. A truly wonderful footballer and genuinely lovely man. A World Cup winner, Manchester United great and, for me, England’s greatest ever player. He may no longer be with us but he’ll have footballing immortality. RIP Sir Bobby.
United’s tribute continues …
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, 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.
Manchester United have published a tribute …
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.
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.
England’s official X account has tweeted the following tribute.
It is with a heavy heart that we have learned of the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton. 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
We arrived into Saturday with a brilliant lineup of sport in store – and that remains the case. However I’m sure I won’t be alone in finding that the weekend has taken on a very different complexion. Sir Bobby’s 106 England caps and the glory of 1966 will live on long beyond him. He was a figure who transcended Manchester United, had achievements that soared above his England appearances and through things like his charitable work and soccer schools he helped to touch lives way beyond Old Trafford, Wembley and the many world stages he starred on.
He was diagnosed with dementia in 2020, having lost his brother and fellow World Cup winner Jack earlier that year. His wife, Lady Norma Charlton said she wanted his condition to be made public in order to help others.
There will be tributes aplenty, but his former club speak for fans and neutrals alike today.
Sir Bobby Charlton, World Cup winner in 1966 and one of English football’s most storied players, has died at the age of 86.
Charlton spent his playing career almost entirely at Manchester United, where the trophies he secured included three league titles and the 1968 European Cup.
A statement on behalf of the Charlton family said: “It is with great sadness that we share the news that Sir Bobby passed peacefully in the early hours of Saturday morning. He was surrounded by his family.
“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.
“We would request that the family’s privacy be respected at this time.”
Supporters will be learning the news with Saturday afternoon football across the UK and Europe in full swing. We’ll be rounding up all the latest tributes from those inside and outside the game here.