Sir Bobby Charlton

Sir Bobby Charlton

Famed for his fearsome shot and his pinpoint passing, Bobby is known throughout the world as an ambassador for football. The miner's son from Northumberland is from fine footballing stock. His brother Jackie needs no introduction, while their Uncle was the legendary Newcastle striker Jackie Milburn, who was part of a notable family that also produced footballing cousins George, James and John.

 

On 9th February 1953, Manchester United scout Joe Armstrong saw Bobby Charlton play and knew he was going to be a world beater. When Bobby was scoring for the England schoolboys, there was said to be up to 18 clubs wanting to sign him, but he had promised to come to Manchester United. He played in three successive FA Youth Cup winning teams, starting in 1953/1954. A "Busby Babe", he scored twice on his debut at Old Trafford on 6th October 1956. This was the beginning of a 20 year career predominantly with Manchester United.
  
He scored ten goals in his first fourteen appearances as part of the ''Busby Babes' team and embodied the spirit of that new generation. The season prior to the Munich crash he had established himself in the first team squad as still young lad. Following the aftermath of Munich, he returned a man to play in the 1958 Cup Final. In the 1958-1959 he notched in 29 goals in 38 appearances and was truly a mainstay of the side.

For four seasons in the early 1960s, he became a left-winger, and there are those who maintain that was his best position. However, it was one that Bobby didn't like because he felt he wasn't involved enough and in 1964 Matt Busby moved him into central midfield. Here his spectacular attributes were there for all to see - the pulverising shot, the accurate long-distance pass and the devastating body swerve - but the most precious of his gifts, and the one which made the rest so deadly, was his instinct. Bobby possessed a natural feel for his work which was inspirational and exceedingly rare, an ability to seize a game and change its course, almost invariably in the grand manner. He had at last found his true playmaker role.

From the midfield, together with Paddy Crerand, he orchestrated some of the most scintillating play in British soccer history. There were two Championships (1965 and 1967) but these only lead to greater things. In 1966 his two goals against Portugal helped England through to the World Cup Final, which they won in spectacular fashion at Wembley. Soon after this triumph he was voted Footballer of the Year by England's soccer writers, an honour quickly followed by the European Footballer of the Year and an award from the referees as a model player. The European Cup triumph in 1968 was Bobby's peak as he captained the Manchester United team to victory ten years after Munich, scoring United's first and last goals in a 4-1 victory.

He went to the 1970 World Cup but was somewhat controversially substituted in the quarter final defeat against West Germany. After leaving United in 1973, Bobby sampled management with Preston North End - for whom he re-registered as a player and turned out for a season. But in August 1975, Bobby being Bobby resigned on a matter of principle.

With management not his forte, he later moved into the partnership of a travel agency and launched the now famous Bobby Charlton Sports Schools. In 1984 Bobby became a director at Old Trafford.
He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1969, the C.B.E. in 1974 and was knighted in 1994.