Sir Bobby Charlton was shy like Lionel Messi but stunned Manchester United with generational ability and cried after England World Cup win
EPL

Sir Bobby Charlton was shy like Lionel Messi but stunned Manchester United with generational ability and cried after England World Cup win

Oct 23, 2023

When football fans hear the name Sir Bobby Charlton, it’s fair to say one of the first words that comes to mind is ‘special’.

The Manchester United legend has sadly passed away at the age of 86 following a football career that was stacked with success.

At both club and international level, Charlton graced the pitch with his quality

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At both club and international level, Charlton graced the pitch with his quality

A World Cup winner with England and three-time top flight champion at United, Sir Bobby is one of football’s greatest icons.

Throughout 17 years at Old Trafford he scored 249 goals across 758 appearances as a forward, the club’s second highest all-time scorer.

Sir Bobby is also one of just nine players to have won the Ballon d’Or, the World Cup and the Champions League, a magnificent feat also reached by stars including Franz Beckenbauer and Lionel Messi.

A legend for both club and country, he established himself as one of the sport’s best ever, with many lucky to witness his talent in person.

MORE ON SIR BOBBY CHARLTON

There was no shortage of praise for Sir Bobby after such an illustrious career, with former United teammate Pat Crerand one to laud his ability but also his unique personality.

“Bobby was one of the shyest persons god ever created,” he told the talkSPORT documentary on Charlton. “He was so shy. He didn’t like the stardom part of it. It embarrassed him a bit.

“It’s hard to imagine a footballer with the ability Bobby had, won the World Cup, European Cup, won everything. But was as shy as anything.

“He never stopped moaning on the pitch. Every ball had to be perfect. He was incredible on the pitch. He was looking for perfection all the time. He didn’t want anyone to make mistakes.

He was a shy character, but that did not limit his ability in front of goal

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He was a shy character, but that did not limit his ability in front of goalCredit: Getty Images – Getty

“I says to him one day after a game at Old Trafford ‘Bobby, you moan at everybody. Most of us aren’t as good you and you can’t expect us to do things you can do. That’s why you are such a great player, we can’t do it. Give one or two of them a bit of encouragement.’

“He did change a little bit after that. Bobby was always looking for perfection.”

Sir Bobby’s ex-England teammate Alan Mullery even likened him to fellow legend Messi for his quietness on the pitch amid his talent with the ball.

Mullery said: “He was such a quiet fella on the football field, very much like Lionel Messi. He was doing nothing in the game and then would change the game inside two minutes.

“He would smash it past the goalkeeper with his left foot and it would come out of nothing. He was one of those players you couldn’t stop.

Charlton, like fellow World Cup winner Messi, was a game-changer

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Charlton, like fellow World Cup winner Messi, was a game-changerCredit: Getty

“A lovely story with Alf Ramsay. We were playing at Wembley against Johan Cruyff, he said to me ‘mark this fella, a young lad. Don’t give him a kick. Every time you get the ball give it to Bobby Charlton.’

“I said why? And he said ‘he scores more goals than you do’. That was it, and he did. When Bobby Charlton got it on his left foot.. blimey.”

England’s 1966 World Cup triumph is one of the country’s greatest sporting achievements, one that Charlton proved key in.

He reflected on the historic 4-2 win in the final against West Germany at Wembley and admitted he was so overcome with emotion that he broke down after winning the biggest prize in world football.

Sir Bobby once said: “The big thing was the game and winning the game. We’d done our homework, done our team talk, been through everything we’d had to talk about.

Charlton was more than worthy of becoming a World Cup winner with England

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Charlton was more than worthy of becoming a World Cup winner with EnglandCredit: Hulton Archive – Getty

“Been through all the dangerous elements of the German team. I was told I had to go with Franz Beckenbauer all the time, I had to stick with him as he was a really dangerous player who could do us more damage than any player on the field.

“I was told if I could go with him and stick with him it would negate a lot of their play. I thought we had the best goalkeeper, the best defenders, in the match we were the best team.”

He added: “I got really emotional and started thinking about when I was a lad and dreaming about being a footballer.

“I used to think about the fans. It was magic and I broke down. Maybe when the whistle went and all the nerves and concentration, they suddenly released and I couldn’t help it. I’m not ashamed of it either.

“I never cried when we lost. I don’t mind crying when we win.”

Sir Bobby’s success will live long in the history of English football and he will forever be known as one of the greatest players to have ever worn the iconic United shirt.


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