What football legends past and present said of Sir Bobby Charlton

Sir Bobby Charlton: What football legends past and present said of the Manchester United and England great after his tragic death aged 86

  • LATEST: Manchester United and England great Sir Bobby Charlton dies aged 86 
  • Charlton is widely viewed as one of the greatest ever players to grace the game 
  • A host of football legends, both past and present, spoke glowingly of Charlton 

Sir Bobby Charlton was idolised and revered throughout his illustrious career on and off the pitch, with football greats both past and present speaking glowingly of him.

Charlton, a titan for Manchester United and England, has died aged 86. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Lady Norma, and their two children, Suzanne and Andrea.

Widely viewed as the Three Lions’ best-ever footballer, he was a crucial part of his country’s World Cup triumph in 1966 and made 106 international appearances.

During his glittering 17-year spell at United, Charlton won three league titles, a European Cup and the FA Cup and remained at the club on the board of directors.

An iconic ambassador for United, Charlton scored 249 goals in 758 games in red.  

Here, Mail Sport rounds up a selection of quotes from fellow footballing legends.

Sir Bobby Charlton, the Manchester United and England legend, has sadly died aged 86

The legendary footballer played for United for 17 years, scoring 249 goals in 758 games

Charlton won the World Cup with the Three Lions in 1966 (pictured: Charlton with the trophy)

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  • What football legends past and present said about the Sir Bobby Charlton



‘That’s how my career started at Manchester United. I went to [the Bobby Charlton Soccer School] at 10 years old and went back there the year after and ended up winning the competition.

‘That was when Sir Bobby contacted Manchester United and said “maybe you should have a look out for this young kid”.

‘So I owe everything to Sir Bobby because, if not, maybe I wouldn’t have had the chance of living my dream of playing for the club that I’d supported for so many years and the club my Dad supported.

‘He has always been about being successful, but even more so about helping other people. That’s what’s so special about him – he’s respected on the field, but even more so off the field.’

David Beckham has credited Charlton with helping him take his first steps into football


‘I think he just epitomises Manchester United. He was one of the best players there’s ever been and he’s someone who is humble, approachable and who oozes class.

‘He’s a great person to know and he’s someone who has inspired me and helped me throughout my career.’


‘Charlton, as we all know, covered the whole pitch. Played on the left, on the right, in the middle. He never stopped running and he had a very powerful shot and scored a lot of great goals.

‘I have many more good than bad memories from my career, but some of the bad memories come from when I crossed paths with Bobby Charlton.

‘It was Bobby Charlton who spoiled my day in the World Cup semi-final of 1966 and later the European Cup final of ’68, but I’ve forgiven him and we are still good friends now. He’s a real English gentleman.’

Portuguese icon Eusebio described Charlton as a good friend and ‘a real English gentleman’


‘Bobby Charlton was known for his creativity. He was on the move for 90 minutes, and had the lungs of a horse.’ 

Franz Beckenbauer was equally effusive in his praise for Charlton and his legendary creativity


‘I owe my life here to Bobby. He always believed in me and, apart from being the greatest legend at this club and the greatest player, it’s been a wonderful pleasure to know you.

‘My time at United has been laced with all these great moments, but none more so than my friendship with Bobby, and what he’s done for me.

‘The great attribute of Bobby – and it’s a great example to anybody who has been successful – is how he’s kept his feet on the ground and retained his humility all his life.’

Sir Alex Ferguson believes he owes his storied United tenure to Charlton and his support


‘The game is never easy but it becomes easier when you’ve got players like that.

‘Bobby had a bit of everything. He was a marvellous crosser of a ball and scored a tremendous amount of goals. He had a fantastic shot, it was so powerful.

‘I knew if he was going to shoot there was a fair chance the goalkeeper wouldn’t be able to hold it, so I would follow up and invariably the guy would drop it.’

Denis Law made up one part of United’s Holy Trinity – Charlton, Law and George Best


‘What a pleasure to play alongside. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody who could beat players as easily as him, myself included.

‘I often used my pace, but Bobby made it look effortless. And once he got within 30 yards of the goal, he was lethal with either foot.

‘Because he played a lot on the left, many people assume he was a natural left-footer, but I don’t think he was. He was just so good with both feet.’

Best said it was a ‘pleasure’ to play alongside Charlton, who made football appear ‘effortless’


‘I played with him briefly toward the end of his United career, and he was just gobsmacking to witness.

‘He was 35 when I got to Old Trafford, and he was as fit and enthusiastic as a 25-year-old. He’d done so much, but his desire never faded – his work-rate kept him right at the top. He was still trying to improve.’


‘There has never been a more popular footballer. He was as near perfection as man and player as it is possible to be.’ 

Sir Matt Busby (second from right) led United to 1968 European Cup, with Charlton captain


‘He was a naturally gifted player, and was two-footed as well, one of the most two-footed players you’ve ever seen. He could go either side, shoot with either foot.’ 


‘When he hammered one into the top corner from long range it was as if he were a man possessed, desperate to separate the leather casing from the bladder.

‘I made virtually all of my 57 England appearances alongside Bob and I can remember few greater competitors and few greater professionals. 

‘His fellow greats like Best and Moore did not lead blameless lives away from the game but Bob was dedicated to his craft.

‘He’s history in the flesh is Bobby Charlton. He’s our greatest living football man.’


‘He had a grace, and a change of pace, and a strike of lightning. Both change of pace, and from his boots; the power in his shooting was immense.’ 


‘Sir Bobby represents everything that is good about the game of football; fair play, respect, and true loyalty and he is a good example for future generations, both on and off the pitch.’


‘He was one of the greatest players I have seen, very much the linchpin of the 1966 team. Early in my management, I knew I had to find a role suitable to Bobby’s unique talents. He wasn’t just a great goalscorer, with a blistering shot using either foot. 

‘Bobby was a player who could also do his share of hard work.’

Former England boss Sir Alf Ramsey and Charlton (middle) won the 1966 World Cup together

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