Manchester United Legends: Sir Bobby Charlton
By Worried Turkey.
Sir Bobby Charlton was born in the village of Ashington (Northumberland) on the 11th of October 1937. Most of Bobby’s family were some way related too football. His mother Cissie was the cousin of ‘Wor Jackie’ Milburn the famous Newcastle and England centre forward, who really was a legend in those days. Bobby’s uncles and grandfather were all professional footballers, three of them played for Leeds United while the fourth played for Leicester City. So you could say it ran in the family and Bobby was destined to play professional football.
Bobby was spotted on a misty day in February 1953 by scout Joe Armstrong. Joe said “I had to peer through the mist, but what I saw was enough to know this boy was going to be a world beater”. Manchester United had to move quickly as several teams were after him. Sir Matt worked his magic and Charlton signed for his beloved Man United. Charlton became a member of the famous ‘Busby Babes’ and played in the successful F.A. Youth cup sides of 1954, 55 and 56. He made his full Manchester United debut against Charlton (6th October) in a 4-2 victory scoring two goals.
We all know the trauma Bobby suffered after Munich. He was a haunted man for a long time, the glisten in his eyes disappeared, as did his hair, which was plentiful prior to that fateful day. Some years ago I attended a Charity Sports Dinner where Sir Bobby was the guest speaker. The subject matter turned to Munich… I’ve never seen a person’s shoulders sag so quickly. He explained before Munich football was sheer enjoyment, but afterwards it became a job and though he still enjoyed playing it was never the same.
After Munich Bobby went onto win almost everything the game has to offer. He won three League Championship medals, the European Cup, the FA Cup and was voted European player of the year in 1966. To cap it all off (106 of them!!!) he won the World Cup with England in 1966 (just in case you’d forgotten ha ha). Bobby played in four World Cup finals in 1958, 62, 66 and 1970 in total and as already mentioned amassed 106 caps and scored 49 goals for England.
After Munich and all the accolades Sir Bobby received he still remained ‘Bobby’. He changed very little from the young lad I witnessed. He was a football machine; his skills were never in doubt. He didn’t run, he ‘glided’, he could pass players on either side and leave for them dead. He was blessed with tremendous balance. I’ve watched numerous players trying to kick the seven lumps of shit out as he manoeuvred his way past would be tacklers – he rolled with the tackle, picked up speed and was gone. He was so graceful it was unbelievable. He perhaps wasn’t the best header of a ball, but he practised and improved, the glancing header in the 1968 European Cup final was superb. Bobby was also extremely athletic. He was capable of running nonstop for 90 minutes and still remained strong as the final whistle neared. Sir Bobby was renowned for his shot – it was like a bullet from a gun. God help you though if his radar was slightly off, he would often have the crowd ducking… not me this time!!!
Ever since Bobby made his debut he was the ultimate professional. He had one goal (two if you include the one he used to shoot at) in his career and that was to make United the best and if it meant upsetting people in the dressing room with his honesty then so be it. From what I have heard (ex pro’s who used to play alongside Bobby) some didn’t like his obsession about the way United played the game or his closeness to Busby, but if Bobby had one fault it was that he couldn’t understand that not everyone wasn’t as good or couldn’t find the game as easy as him. I personally think that is why he never made a good manager.
‘Big’ Bill Foulkes once told me Charlton never lost his temper on the pitch but ‘boy’ he sure could off the pitch, as I found out from firsthand experience. Bobby had organised a golf day between United v City and I caddied for Bill. Bobby shanked a shot and came out with a right mouthful nearly bending his club with the force he slammed it into the ground… I think it was only Mike Doyle (City Captain and the biggest United hater I have ever known. Someone I once made look a fool ha ha) laughing that made Bobby quickly regain his composure and continue the game. That was Bobby, he wanted to do, not the best, but the best of his ability.
Some of my favourite memories of Bobby were of him going down the left wing. A position he didn’t like playing, but one Sir Matt insisted he played there as it was to the benefit of United. Later, Bobby played inside forward and centre forward, but in all honesty he was dangerous wherever he played. I’ve discussed Bobby long enough, in fact I could discuss him more, but I don’t want to bore you too much. I will finish by saying ‘Roy of the Rovers’ won everything as a comic book hero… Bobby Charlton was the real thing.
GOD BLESS YOU BOBBY AND THANK YOU!!!!!
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