The passing of Bobby Charlton at age 86 deeply saddened the soccer world. Charlton was a legendary player for England and Manchester United who left an indelible impact on the sport. Tributes poured in for one of football’s true icons.
Charlton died peacefully on Saturday surrounded by family, who expressed profound thanks for the outpouring of love and support. Diagnosed with dementia in 2020, Charlton’s death leaves 1966 teammate Geoff Hurst as the only living World Cup winner.
Manchester United Called Charlton One of Their “Greatest and Most Beloved”
Manchester United said Charlton was “a hero to millions” whose achievements, character and service forever etched his name in club lore. His contributions both on and off the pitch made him a cherished figure.
The club said Charlton ranked among the greatest players in its esteemed history. He exemplified sportsmanship and integrity alongside his supreme footballing talents.
Charlton’s family requested privacy to mourn the immense loss. Supporters worldwide unite in grief over his passing while celebrating his magnificent life.
Survivor of 1958 Munich Disaster and Foundation of Busby’s Rebuilt United
Born in 1937, Charlton joined United’s youth team in 1953 before debuting professionally in 1956 at age 18. A 1958 survivor of the Munich air disaster that killed 8 teammates, the tragedy impacted Charlton profoundly.
Alongside fellow icons like Denis Law and George Best, Charlton was instrumental in United’s 1968 European Cup victory. His 249 goals and 758 games cemented his Old Trafford legend status.
Charlton was the bedrock of manager Sir Matt Busby’s revival after Munich. His centrality linking eras was honored by renaming United’s south stand after him.
World Cup Hero for England, Winning Ballon D’Or in 1966
Charlton scored 49 goals in 106 England caps, breaking records at the time. His Ballon D’Or-winning performance typified his indispensable impact for the 1966 World Champions.
Charlton brilliantly marked German legend Franz Beckenbauer in the final, allowing other English stars to shine. This exemplified his selflessness elevating the team.
England’s manager called him “the greatest ambassador” for his skill, pride and integrity representing the nation. He will forever be remembered as a titan of English football.
Trailblazer Who Later Guided United as Director and Inspired Future Generations
After leaving United in 1973, Charlton became Preston North End’s manager before joining Wigan Athletic, where he also briefly led the first team. He rejoined United’s board in 1984.
Knighted in 1994, Charlton’s lifetime honors reflect his enormous stature. He came in second in the Sports Personality Award multiple times before accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Former United player Gary Neville called Charlton the “golden thread” linking the Busby and Ferguson eras. His presence awed younger players, who learned from his dedication to excellence.
Tributes Pour In for “Undisputed Legend” of the Game
Tributes flowed from every corner of the soccer world mourning the loss of a true gentleman and role model.
The Football Association called Charlton a “true legend” who will forever be engrained in England’s World Cup triumph. UEFA praised him as “one of the game’s true greats.”
Fellow 1966 teammate Geoff Hurst said the entire football community will sorely miss Charlton’s camaraderie and friendship. Charlton’s legacy will never be forgotten.