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England and Manchester United great Sir Bobby Charlton dies at 86

England and Manchester United great Sir Bobby Charlton dies at 86
A tribute to the late Sir Bobby Charlton is shown on the big screen at half time during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC at Stamford Bridge on 21 October 2023 in London, England. (Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

Former England great and Manchester United stalwart Sir Bobby Charlton has died.

Bobby Charlton, an England World Cup winner and one of Manchester United’s greatest players, died on Saturday at the age of 86, the Premier League club said in a statement. 

Charlton was a key figure in England’s 1966 World Cup-winning team, where he played alongside his brother Jack, and he also appeared 758 times for United, scoring 249 goals.

 “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,” the club said. 

Charlton spent 17 years at Old Trafford and was part of the “Busby Babes” team that was decimated by the 1958 Munich air crash. He won the European Cup and three English league titles as well as the FA Cup with the club. 

The announcement of his death led to a flood of tributes from across the sporting world. 

A Sheffield United fan holds up a sign in remembrance of Sir Bobby Charlton CBE at the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Manchester United at Bramall Lane on 21 October 2023 in Sheffield, England. Charlton died earlier that day at the age of 86. (Photo: James Gill / Getty Images)

“Today is not just a sad day for Manchester United & England, it’s a sad day for football and everything that Sir Bobby represented,” said former United and England midfielder David Beckham.

Regarded as possessing one of the hardest shots of his generation and a player who bridged eras, Charlton earned 106 caps for England and scored 49 goals. 

Charlton’s appearances in the stands at Old Trafford had become less frequent after it was announced he had been diagnosed with dementia in 2020. His family said he “passed peacefully in the early hours of Saturday morning”. 

“We would request that the family’s privacy be respected at this time,” their statement said. 

While Charlton’s passing will be felt across the game, nowhere will it hit home as much as Manchester United — the club where he became a soccer icon and where a stand is named in his honour. 

“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,” the club said in a statement.

 “His unparalleled record of achievement, character and service will be forever etched in the history of Manchester United and English football.” 

Sir Bobby Charlton during the match between Manchester United Legends and FC Barcelona Legends at Old Trafford on 2 September 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo: Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

His death means the only surviving member of the England team who beat West Germany 4-2 at Wembley in 1966 is hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst, who led the tributes on Saturday. 

“Very sad news today. One of the true Greats Sir Bobby Charlton has passed away,” Hurst wrote on X. 

“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.” 

The German Football League said: “We mourn the loss of one of the greatest players in football history, who won the 1966 World Cup with England. Rest in peace, Sir Bobby Charlton.” Reuters/DM

Reaction to Charlton’s death

Former England Striker, 1966 World Cup Winner Geoff Hurst

“Very sad news today. One of the true greats Sir Bobby Charlton has passed away. We will never forget him & nor will all of football. A great colleague & friend, he will be sorely missed by all of the country beyond sport alone. Condolences to his family & friends from Geoff and Judith.”

Former United and England Midfielder David Beckham

“It all began with Sir Bobby. Sir Bobby was the reason I had the opportunity to play for Manchester United…

“I will forever be grateful to a man I was named after, someone I looked up to and was a hero to many around the world, not just in Manchester and our country where he won the World Cup in 1966.

“A true gentleman, family man and truly a national hero… Today is not just a sad day for Manchester United & England, it’s a sad day for football and everything that Sir Bobby represented.

“Our thoughts go out to Lady Norma, their daughters and his grandchildren. Rest in peace Sir Bobby. Today our hearts are heavy.”

Former United and England Defender Gary Neville

“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.” 

Former England Forward Gary Lineker

“Deeply saddened to hear that Sir Bobby Charlton has died. A truly wonderful footballer and genuinely lovely man. A World Cup winner, Man Utd 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.” 

English Football Association

“We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of former England captain Sir Bobby Charlton. A full tribute to Sir Bobby will be paid at Wembley Stadium when England play Malta on Friday 17 November.” 

The Premier League

“The Premier League is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the greatest players in English football history.” 

England National Team

“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.” 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

“On behalf of Fifa, and the global football family, I send my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sir Bobby Charlton. We mourn the loss of one of England’s 1966 Fifa World Cup winning team and a football legend, whose impact on the game spanned generations.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was close to him, his former teammates, The Football Association and Manchester United. Rest In Peace.”

 UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

“Very sad to hear of the death of Sir Bobby Charlton. He has a place in history as one of the game’s greatest players and was hugely loved. Rest in peace Sir Bobby.”

 European Soccer’s Governing Body Uefa

“On behalf of the entire European football community, we are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the game’s true greats.” DM/Reuters


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