Manchester United players past and present are paying tribute to the legendary Sir Bobby Charlton after his passing at the age of 86.
Man Utd great Charlton was the club’s all-time leading goalscorer before Wayne Rooney broke his record in 2017 and was a survivor of the Munich air disaster in 1958, helping to rebuild the Red Devils after the tragedy.
He made 758 appearances in 17 years for United and his death leaves only Sir Geoff Hurst as the sole England player who started the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany still alive.
English football has unified in mourning of Charlton, well known for his modest, gentlemanly and shy nature, with tributes being paid across the world of football.
After United’s 2-1 win against Sheffield United on Saturday night, manager Erik ten Hag said: “A legend, a giant passing away – his achievements are so immense and huge. Global, not only England, [what] he achieved is incredible.”
David Beckham touched on his beginnings at Old Trafford: “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.”
Harry Maguire added: “Sir Bobby came into the dressing room a lot and he lit the place up. He’s an absolute legend of the club. We are delighted to win the game today but this is more than football and our thoughts are with his family. We will miss him, the world will miss him.”
Record United goalscorer Rooney, now in charge of Championship side Birmingham, said: “I’m still in shock. Coming out at half-time for the second half, we heard the news.
“Winning the World Cup in ’66 and the European Cup in ’68 after what he’d been through with the Munich disaster – he’s had a great life. He’s a great, an absolute legend of the game.”
Rio Ferdinand posted on social media: “Sir Bobby. Icon, Legend, Great…these words are thrown around by all of us to many who 100% don’t deserve them, especially when you compare them to a man of Sir Bobby’s calibre.”
Former right-back Gary Neville said: “The greatest Man Utd representative and has been for 50 to 60 years. One of the original Busby Babes. He won youth cups at Man Utd then won the European Cup, the World Cup and in the modern era he was a director of the club.
“He used to come into the changing room – win, lose or draw. He is an icon.
“A great loss today. No doubt [he was] English football’s greatest player and ambassador. A champion on and off the pitch.”
United great Eric Cantona reacted: “Rest in Peace dear Sir Bobby Charlton. One of the best of all time.”
Current defensive midfielder Casemiro posted: “European Cup winner, World Cup winner, Ballon d’Or winner and one of the greatest Manchester United players of all time. Lifting the European Cup of 1968 with the Red Devils was an absolute milestone for the legendary history of our club. Rest In Peace, Sir Bobby Charlton.”
Denis Law, who played alongside Charlton 304 times for United: “Another sad day…what can I say…Sir Bobby was an unbelievable player and a gentleman. Manchester United meant everything to him. We had many special and successful years together and he was a joy to play with…he knew where every player was on the pitch and for me that was a dream. I knew if Bobby had the ball it would find me and it did. What a striker of the ball he was. He could hit the ball so hard that I knew most keepers didn’t stand a chance. On the rare occasion they did manage to deflect it, it would drop nicely to me to finish it off.
“Along with George [Best], our partnership was sealed. The great part of playing with Bobby and George was that if one of us was having a bad day, the other two knew and that’s what made our relationship special. I am saddened by the news, like all football fans today.”
England manager Gareth Southgate said: “The privilege of meeting him on several occasions allowed me to understand his personal pride and emotion in having represented England, and simply confirmed in my mind his standing as one of the gentlemen of the game.
“The world of football will unite in sadness at losing an undisputed legend.”
What we know
- Charlton passed away on Saturday and tributes have flown in
- David Beckham, Eric Cantona, Wayne Rooney and more praise the World Cup winner
- Red Devils beat Sheffield United 2-1 after news of the legend’s passing broke.