SIR BOBBY CHARLTON
|Born :||11 Oct 1937|
|Signed :||01 Jun 1953|
|Debut :||6 Oct 1956 v Charlton (H) League|
|Goals total :||249|
|Appearances total :||758|
|Left United :||01 May 1973|
Nobody embodies the values of Manchester United better than Sir Bobby Charlton. Having survived the trauma of Munich aged just 20, he played as if every game was for his fallen colleagues, recovering from his injuries to reach the pinnacle for both club and country.
In a 17-year playing career with United, he played a record 754 games, scoring 247 goals. It is unlikely his deeds will ever be matched. Although highly coveted by clubs across the country, the young Charlton, nephew of the great Newcastle striker Jackie Milburn, turned professional with United in October 1954, winning the FA Youth Cup in 1954, 1955 and 1956. His league debut came on 6 October 1956 against Charlton at Old Trafford and the youngster made an immediate impact, scoring twice despite carrying an injury. “Mr Busby asked me if I was ok,” recalled Sir Bobby. “I actually had a sprained ankle, but I wasn’t going to admit to it and I crossed my fingers and said ‘yes’.” Despite his dramatic bow, Charlton didn’t command a relatively regular place until the latter stages of the 1956/57 season, notching 10 goals as the Busby Babes won a first title. Competition for a first-team spot was intense, but a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers in January 1958 certainly helped his cause, and Busby found it harder and harder to leave out the powerful young forward. A month later Charlton scored twice in United’s 3-3 draw against Partizan Belgrade as the Babes sealed a place in the semi-finals of the European Cup. It was on their return that disaster struck, and Charlton was among those injured. His wounds were relatively minor, however, and he was back in action within a month. Charlton proved an integral component of the post-Munich rebuilding, plying his trade across the field while the rest of the side was reconstructed. A permanent switch to a deep-lying forward role brought the best from him, and he was vital as United won the league championships in 1965 and 1967. Those successes flanked international glory with England. Shortly before the 1966 World Cup, Charlton was named Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year and European Footballer of the Year in quick succession. He went on to play a starring role as Alf Ramsey’s side won the tournament, scoring twice in the semi-final win over Portugal. Charlton went on to win 106 caps – three as captain – and is still England’s record goalscorer with 49 goals. Although winning the World Cup is seen as the pinnacle of achievement in football, Charlton’s finest hour at club level came in May 1968 when he captained United to European Cup triumph. Sir Bobby scored twice in a 4-1 extra-time victory over Benfica at Wembley. For Charlton the victory capped the post-Munich rebuilding, and he famously missed the post-match celebrations – opting instead to conduct a solitary remembrance of absent friends. Sir Bobby continued to entertain as part of the famed Best-Law-Charlton triumvirate before he retired in 1973. He spent two years as manager and player-manager at Preston North End before resigning in August 1975. He briefly played for Waterford in the Republic of Ireland in 1976 before accepting a boardroom position at Wigan Athletic, where he took over as caretaker-manager during season 1982-83. In June 1984 Charlton became a director of Manchester United, a position he still holds today. Already awarded the OBE and CBE, he became Sir Bobby Charlton in June 1994. A respected ambassador for his club, English football and the game across the world football, he is a figurehead: a link with the club’s past, present and future.