England soccer player Bobby Charlton, the former Manchester United star who brought the European Cup to his club and the World Cup to his country, has died at the age of 86, his family announced on Saturday.
He was one of Manchester United’s iconic players and a legendary figure in English football. Bobby Charlton has died at the age of 86, his family announced in a press release on Saturday, October 21.
“Manchester United are in mourning following the death of Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the greatest and most loved players in the club’s history,” Manchester United wrote in a statement.
Sir Bobby Charlton CBE, 1937-2023.
Words will never be enough.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 21, 2023
With Bobby Charlton, Manchester United became the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968.
Surviving the Munich air crash that killed eight of his club teammates in 1958, he overcame the ordeal to win the World Cup with England in 1966 and the European Champion Clubs’ Cup with United two years later.
Known for his powerful strikes, the 1966 Ballon d’Or winner also became a symbol of elegance and sportsmanship.
Born on October 11, 1937 in Ashington, a working-class town in the north-east of England, Bobby Charlton joined United at the age of 15.
In the reconstruction after World War II, the club then wanted to recruit young players. Under coach Matt Busby and with Charlton as manager, the “Busby Babes” were crowned champions of England in 1957.
The win qualified Manchester for the following season’s European Cup, and tragedy struck on February 6, 1958, when Red Star were returning from the second-leg final against Belgrade.
After stopping in Munich to refuel, the plane carrying the group failed twice to take off before a third fatal attempt. Bobby Charlton, who was ejected from the plane, escaped with minor injuries, but the crash killed 23 people.
One of the victims, Duncan Edwards, 21, destined for a better life, was described by Charlton as “the only player who ever made me feel inferior”.
“Even today… it comes back to me, it affects me every day,” he wrote in his autobiography “My Manchester United Years”, published in 2007. “Sometimes I think about it in a delusional way. A horrible feeling of sadness and guilt at the thought that I got away with it.”
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