Bobby Charlton, England World Cup winner and Manchester United icon, dies at 86 | ET REALITY


Bobby Charlton, one of football’s greatest players, who won the World Cup with England in 1966 in a dazzling career tainted by the tragedy of losing eight of his Manchester United teammates in a plane crash early in his days as a player, he died on Saturday. He was 86 years old.

His death was confirmed in a declaration of Manchester United, who described him as one of the club’s “greatest and most beloved players.” The statement did not say where he died or cite a cause. He was revealed in November 2020 that Charlton had dementia.

Charlton was famous for his bullet shooting and relentless goal-scoring, even though he did not play like a traditional striker. He was England’s top scorer, with 49 goals, for 45 years until Wayne Rooney surpassed the mark in September 2015. Charlton was also Manchester United’s top scorer for decades, with 249 goals in 758 appearances over 17 years, until Rooney also surpassed that number. , in January 2017.

In addition to his goalscoring exploits, Charlton’s career was indelibly marked by a plane crash in 1958, shortly after becoming a professional player. After a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade, the plane carrying the Manchester United team crashed in heavy snow during a refueling stop in Munich. Of the 23 deaths, eight were players. Charlton, who was dragged from the rubble by a teammate, was 21 years old at the time.

Just three weeks later, with United manager Matt Busby still in hospital in Germany, Charlton was back on the pitch. Because of his dignity in leading the Manchester United team during that dark period, his sportsmanship and his central role in United’s resurgence and his country’s unique success on the international stage, several commentators referred to him as the first gentleman of football.

Charlton became a director and ambassador of Manchester United in 1984. A statue of Charlton, alongside his legendary teammates George Best and Denis Law, known as the United Trinity, was erected outside Manchester United’s stadium, Old Trafford, in 2008. , and in 2016 the club renamed the south stand of the stadium in his honour. Charlton is also credited with giving Old Trafford its nickname, the Theater of Dreams.

Robert Charlton was born on 11 October 1937 in Ashington, Northumberland, northern England, son of Robert and Elizabeth (Milburn) Charlton. His father was a miner, but the family had football in their genes. Four of his uncles were professional players and his mother’s cousin, Jackie Milburn, was a legendary Newcastle United striker; Jack, Bobby’s brother. He became a professional player for Leeds and also represented England.

“There was nothing else in life, it didn’t seem like it, except football,” Bobby Charlton said in a 2010 Sky Sports documentary.

Charlton turned professional in 1954 and made his first appearance for Manchester United on 6 October 1956, aged 18. When Busby called him up to the first team, he had to hide the fact that he had an injury.

“I actually sprained my ankle, but I wasn’t going to admit it,” Charlton said in a 2011 BBC documentary. He scored twice on his debut.

Manchester United won the league title in the 1956-57 season, with Charlton becoming a central player. The team was known as the Busby Babes after the manager, who had combed England’s playing fields to find the best young talent to suit his vision of football played with panache, pace and quick passing.

Their success in the league earned Manchester United a place in the European Cup, the precursor to the Champions League, next season. After a 3-3 draw with Red Star secured a place in the semi-finals, the plane taking the team home stopped to refuel in Munich. Amid terrible weather conditions, two takeoff attempts were aborted. On the third, the plane crashed.

Crawling to safety through a hole in the fuselage, the team’s goalkeeper, Harry Gregg, dragged Charlton and another teammate, Dennis Viollet, out. “I left them there dead,” Gregg told the BBC in 2011. “The biggest surprise I had was when I turned around and there was Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet looking at the rest of the plane exploding in the gas dump. I’m just looking”.

Charlton returned home to recover from his injuries, which were relatively minor. He also faced the psychological trauma of trying to return to the field without his lost teammates.

But after seeing United scratch with several players from the youth team and on loan get over sheffield wednesday In an FA Cup match shortly after the accident, Charlton told acting manager Jimmy Murphy that he would return. Many saw Charlton’s stoicism and his refusal to give up as a ray of hope in the midst of tragedy.

United rebuilt around Charlton. Busby recovered from his injuries and, throughout the 1960s, he set about creating a new team. By mid-decade, Charlton was a pillar of Manchester United and a lynchpin of the English team as a country. prepared to host the 1966 World Cup.

England started the tournament slowly, but in the second game, against Mexico, Charlton provided inspiration with a trademark goal. Advancing down the halfway line, he lunged into the opponent’s penalty area as the defender retreated, and fired into the top corner of the net with such languid violence that the ball nearly ripped the posts out of the ground.

“I hit it and it was sweet as a nut,” Charlton said in 2011. “I thought people will remember it because I will remember it for a long time.”

In the semi-final against Portugal, Charlton scored two more goals take his team to the final against West Germany, thereby Setting up one of the most memorable games. in the history of the World Cups.

England manager Alf Ramsey told Charlton to follow Germany’s best player, Franz Beckenbauer. Unknown to the English, Beckenbauer had received the same instructions in reverse from his own coach.

“He was very fit,” Beckenbauer would later recall. “He ran like a horse. It was very, very difficult to stop him. “It was almost impossible.”

Beckenbauer and Charlton largely neutralized each other, but the vibrant match went to overtime, when England took the lead, 3-2, on a contested goal from Geoff Hurst. The shot hit the crossbar and bounced down. and the Russian linesman, Tofiq Bahramov, scored a goal. Whether the ball crossed the line remains a matter of controversy.

Buoyed by the lead, England scored a fourth, and Hurst scored the game’s third in the final seconds. As Hurst prepared his shot and fired into the net, BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme uttered perhaps the most famous lines in English football: “Some people are on the pitch and they think it’s all over. This is now! It’s four o’clock!

With the trophy won, Charlton and his teammates were feted as heroes. But Charlton’s fairy tale had not yet turned the last page.

Busby had added Law, a predatory Scottish striker, and Best, a lean, mercurial genius from Northern Ireland, to his revamped Manchester United team, which still had Charlton as a foothold. In the 1967-68 season, a decade after the Munich disaster, Manchester United once again qualified for the European Cup.

The team beat Real Madrid, then six-time champions, in the semi-final, and then faced Portugal’s Benfica in the final at Wembley Stadium in London. Filled with memories of players lost a decade earlier, the occasion was filled with poignancy.

“The most important thing before that was that we were going to win the game,” Charlton said. “There was no alternative. “We had to win that game.”

Charlton opened the scoring with a headed goal, but the match went to extra time. Fallen from exhaustion but exhilarated with the determination to finally win the trophy that had cost the club so much, the United players worked hard. Best put the team ahead, Brian Kidd scored a third and Charlton added the coup de grace with a fourth.

“We had done it,” Charlton recalled in 2011. “When the final whistle went, everyone ran towards Sir Matt. It was his players who were lost in Munich. “It was his guys, his team, and everyone in the crowd, maybe even across the country, thought a little bit about Matt Busby’s feelings that night.”

Charlton is survived by his wife, Norma, whom he married in 1961; two daughters, Suzanne and Andrea; and grandchildren.

Charlton finished his career in 1973 with a record that can be compared with that of the best in the world. In his subsequent role as Manchester United manager, he provided an important link between the Busby Babes era and a new period of dominance forged by another Scottish manager, Alex Ferguson.

“Hands down the greatest player of all time,” Ferguson said of Charlton in 2011. “He could float across the ground like a piece of silver paper.”

Loved by Manchester United fans, Charlton was also adored by fans of all teams, not only at home but around the world. He became the embodiment of the legendary, perhaps mythical, nobility of English football.

Hurst, his England teammate, said that by speaking to people who didn’t speak English, Charlton’s reach became clear. “There’s only so much English they can say,” Hurst explained. “And that’s ‘Bobby Charlton.'”

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