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October 22, 2023 12:10 AM IST

Plane crash survivor Sir Bobby Charlton; United and England legend, passes away at 86

Bobby Charlton, the legendary English footballer, who not only survived the tragic Munich plane crash back in 1958,  that devastated a Manchester United team with boundless potential but also went on to become the cornerstone of his country’s historic 1966 World Cup-winning squad, has passed away at the age of 86.

Manchester United announced his death in an official statement.

Sir Bobby Charlton, renowned for his powerful shooting and distinctive hairstyle, achieved numerous accolades during his impressive 20-year career with Manchester United, including three league titles, the European Cup (now the Champions League), and an FA Cup. He played a crucial role in the England team’s historic triumph at the 1966 World Cup.

Charlton was admired not only for his exceptional football skills but also for his sportsmanship and integrity.

The Manchester United genius primarily played as an attacking midfielder. He made 758 appearances for Manchester United, scoring an impressive 249 goals during his 17-year tenure with the club. His illustrious career included three league titles, an FA Cup, and the European Cup.

The football icon also earned 106 caps for the England national team, where he scored 49 goals, a record that stood for 45 years until Wayne Rooney surpassed it in 2015. Bobby Charlton played a pivotal role in England’s momentous World Cup victory on home soil, marking the only occasion when the nation claimed the ultimate prize in men’s soccer. He scored three goals in that tournament.

Bobby Charlton is rightfully considered one of England’s greatest footballers and one of the standout players of his era, alongside legendary figures like Pelé, Eusébio, Bobby Moore, Garrincha, and Franz Beckenbauer. 

His excellence at the 1966 World Cup earned him the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.

In their statement, Manchester United expressed their deepest condolences to his wife, Lady Norma, his daughters, grandchildren, and all those who are close to him. The club described him as a “hero to millions,” not only in Manchester or the United Kingdom but across the globe wherever football is played.

Charlton was one of the survivors the 1958 air disaster that claimed the lives of 23 people, including eight members of the young team known as the ‘Busby Babes.

Sir Bobby Charlton’s death comes just 15 days after the passing of Cathy, the wife of Alex Ferguson, Manchester United’s most successful manager, who reached the age of 84. It’s noteworthy that Charlton played a pivotal role in persuading Manchester United to bring Ferguson on board in 1986.

Post his retirement, Charlton remained devoted to the club, serving as a director for 39 years.

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