From this week on I will publish an article every week for the foreseeable future, remembering a true hero of the beautiful game, their achievements and their greatest moments.
As an English football fan, only one man seemed to make sense to kick it off. Every English football fan, young and old, knows Sir Bobby Charlton. Currently a director at former club Manchester United, Charlton has contributed so much to English football, and continues to do so. He was knighted in 1994, becoming only the sixth person to be granted the highly prestigious honour for contribution to football.
Charlton was born in Ashington in 1937, the youngest of two brothers (his brother Jack was also part of the 1966 England side, and later went on to manage Ireland) into a footballing family. His mother had four brothers, Jack, George, Jim and Stan Milburn, who were professional footballers, as well as a cousin, Jackie Milburn. Bobby signed with United at the age of 15 on 1 January 1953, and turned professional just under two years later, in October 1954.
In 1958, football was nearly robbed of this great talent, when Manchester United's flight from Belgrade crashed in Munich, where it had stopped to refuel. Many great footballers and young men lost their lives, but Sir Bobby was lucky enough to survive.
Widely regarded as the driving force behind England's solitary successful World Cup campaign on home territory in 1966, where he was named player of the tournament, Sir Bobby's career was one of great success. Until recently, when David Beckham overtook him, Charlton held the record for most outfield appearances for England, with 106 caps, scoring 49 goals from midfield, and he also stands at second place for the most Manchester United appearances, behind Ryan Giggs, though Charlton started more games.
He is also the all-time top scorer for Manchester United to date, despite playing from midfield, and was arguably the most important player in a team that included George Best and Denis Law.
Charlton won a total of three First Division (now Premier League) titles, an FA Cup, four Charity Shields (now Community Shield) and a European Cup in his 17 years at United, in a time when the sport was simply more competitive than it is today. He was also able to lift the World Cup with England, as well as winning the now defunct British Home Championship 10 times.
Bobby Charlton is a name that has become synonymous with English football, particularly Manchester United, but his legacy is worth much more than just football. Charlton is a stand-out example for footballers due to his charity work. He has been involved in fund raising for cancer charities, as well as land-mine clearance for many years, to name just two of the charities he is involved with.
If there is any justice in the world, football will always remember Sir Bobby Charlton as one of its brightest stars, and a true legend of the game. Long live Sir Bobby.