The soccer community in England was deeply affected this weekend with the announcement of the death of Bobby Charlton. Recognized as perhaps the most exceptional soccer talent the country has ever produced, Charlton’s passing at 86 years old has left many in mourning.
Tributes poured in from all corners of the soccer world. Notable figures such as David Beckham and Prince William expressed their admiration and respect for the World Cup winner. The legacy of the former Manchester United icon was prominently featured on the front pages of England’s national newspapers. The Sunday Times poignantly remarked, “A little bit of England has died,” referencing Charlton’s pivotal role in England’s 1966 World Cup victory.
According to a statement from his family, relayed by the English Football Association, Charlton passed away peacefully in the early hours of Saturday, surrounded by his loved ones. Manchester United, in their statement, described him as a “giant of the game” and emphasized his global impact, not just in Manchester or the UK but wherever soccer is celebrated.
Manchester United announced that a condolence book would be available at Old Trafford, the club’s stadium, for fans and well-wishers to sign. An online version is also available. Fans have been paying their respects by placing flowers next to the “United Trinity” sculpture outside the stadium, which features Charlton alongside fellow United legends George Best and Denis Law.
David Beckham, who has more international caps for England than Charlton, expressed his deep gratitude to the late legend. Beckham credited Charlton as the reason he got the opportunity to play for Manchester United. He shared on Instagram, “It all began with Sir Bobby… I will be forever grateful to a man I was named after…”
Charlton’s influence on soccer was truly global. He became a symbol for Manchester United, one of the world’s premier soccer clubs. His achievements for both club and country have been celebrated worldwide. He is often mentioned in the same breath as other soccer legends like Pelé, Eusébio, and Franz Beckenbauer. Charlton’s accolades include winning the Ballon d’Or in 1966.
On social media platform X, Prince William, the president of the Football Association, paid tribute, calling Charlton a “gentleman” and a “legend.” FIFA President Gianni Infantino also expressed his condolences on X, highlighting Charlton’s contributions to the 1966 FIFA World Cup-winning team.
Gary Lineker, another English soccer great, took to X to express his admiration for Charlton, whom he described as “England’s greatest ever player.”
One of the most iconic moments of Charlton’s illustrious career was the 1966 World Cup. England clinched the title with a 4-2 victory against West Germany at Wembley Stadium. Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat trick in that final, referred to Charlton as “one of the greats” following the news of his passing.
The significance of Charlton’s death was evident in the tributes paid at Premier League matches and the headlines of Sunday’s newspapers in England. The Sun on Sunday labeled Charlton as “a hero to the whole world.”
Bobby Charlton’s brother, Jack Charlton, who also played in the 1966 World Cup final and passed away in 2020, was remembered alongside him.