Thousands of fans say goodbye to Bobby Charlton in Manchester

LONDON, 13 Nov. (PA Media/dpa/EP) –

Thousands of fans and prominent members of the football community gathered this Monday in Manchester (England) to say their last goodbye to Sir Bobby Charlton, the legendary English footballer who died at the age of 86 on October 21.

Fans flocked to the Old Trafford Stadium and the city’s cathedral to attend a public funeral in memory of Charlton, world champion with England in 1966, the year in which he also won the Ballon d’Or, and of Europe with Manchester United in 1968.

The funeral was full of praise for his figure, almost always more towards his family life rather than his sporting life. Thus, his grandson William Balderston read the last of the tributes and remembered Charlton as a “creative and fantastic storyteller” who invented what he called “jelly and custard” stories to entertain and enthuse his younger relatives. .

For his part, David Gill, former executive director of Manchester United, highlighted the deceased as “a legend, an icon and a very dear and loyal colleague and friend.” “Football is a tribal sport, but Bobby was universally admired,” said the executive, who recalled the midfielder’s great statistics, without forgetting that the one he liked “most” was the one with only two warnings and that he was never sent off. .

“I know Bobby didn’t have to put up with VAR, a scourge of modern football that I’m not sure he was a big fan of, but to me that says it all. You can be a superstar and a fierce competitor while still being being a gentleman. Bobby’s name is synonymous with everything good about English football,” Gill remarked.

He assured that he would have liked to “talk more” with Charlton about the Munich air tragedy of which he was one of the few survivors and “about how he coped with the aftermath.” “But Bobby dealt with it his way: privately, stoic and dignified,” he confessed.

But his most moving words from Gill concerned family man Charlton. “Family was the most important thing to him, and you could see the wonderful marriage he had with Norma for more than 60 years and how proud he was of his daughters Suzanne and Andrea, his son-in-law Andrew and his grandchildren Robert, William and Emma when They came at Christmas and on other occasions to Old Trafford, where the south stand will forever bear their name in recognition of their importance to the history and heritage of the club,” he said.

“A revered son of the North East, a Manchester icon for all he did for United, a national treasure as the epitome of the best of English sport and a man loved and admired around the world – the world football family has lost a sporting legend,” said David Gill.

For his part, Sir Alex Ferguson, former coach of the ‘Red Devils’, praised Bobby Charlton as “a wonderful and humble man.” “I am at Manchester United thanks to Bobby Charlton, without a doubt,” he said in statements to the ‘BBC’.

Thousands of fans thronged Old Trafford to pay their respects as Bobby Charlton’s funeral procession passed by, while many hundreds more gathered outside Manchester Cathedral, with more than 1,000 guests coming to pay their respects.

These included teammates from Charlton’s glory days such as Alex Stepney, Paddy Crerand and Brian Kidd, and players from the current squad such as Harry Maguire, Tom Heaton, Jonny Evans and Luke Shaw. Also attending were personalities such as the Prince of Wales, also president of the English Federation, the national coach Gareth Southgate and the top leader of UEFA, the Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin.

The funeral began with the famous FA Cup anthem, ‘Abide With Me’, and also featured a performance of ‘How Great Thou Art’ by opera singer Russell Watson.

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