He had an innate talent for playing snooker.
When I was 16 years old and working as a trainee press photographer for the Stockport Advertiser, I was assigned to cover a charity golf event at Marple Golf Club. This took place in May of 1976, shortly after Manchester United’s loss to Southampton in the FA Cup final. However, upon arrival, I was informed that there would be a slight delay. Just two minutes later, Bobby Charlton showed up to accept the charity donation for a cancer organization.
As we waited, Bobby suggested playing a game of snooker when we noticed a snooker room. After twenty minutes, the club captain interrupted and announced that they were ready for us, using Mr. Charlton’s name. Bobby responded that we would be there shortly as we finished up our current frame. The captain, embarrassed, left us. I was not skilled at snooker, but Bobby Charlton was a natural. He explained his shots as he made them and even gave me some advice on my own shots. When we finished, he shook my hand and complimented my game. I took a picture for the local newspaper and then left.
As I made my way up the driveway to the main road, I saw a Jaguar drive by and then stop a short distance ahead. It turned out to be Bobby Charlton, who kindly offered me a ride home. During the ride, we chatted about football and the FA Cup final, and he also took the time to ask about my work and family. As a 16-year-old, I was both impressed and thrilled by the experience. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate just how gracious and humble Sir Bobby Charlton truly was. He treated me with kindness and respect, teaching me the importance of treating everyone equally. This is a lesson I will never forget. – Andy Manning
He possessed a good sense of humor.
I grew up in Manchester and received a season ticket to Old Trafford at the age of eight. Contrary to my friends who supported England, I also owned a Scotland shirt. When I was 10, my mother and I bumped into Bobby Charlton. Shyly, I stayed back while my mother approached him and asked for his autograph. Upon noticing my Scotland shirt, he joked, “Not wearing that shirt.” However, he still signed it with a smile. While much has been said about his exceptional skills on the field, I would like to highlight that he also had a sense of humor despite his reputation for being serious. Mark Childs
He was not just a celebrity. He was more significant than that.
I had the pleasure of enjoying a lunch with the Manchester United team, which included notable players such as Andy Cole, Gary Neville, and the esteemed Alan Keegan, also known as The Voice of Old Trafford. It was an incredible experience filled with engaging conversations, covering not only football and the club but also personal anecdotes about their lives and families. However, the most memorable moment was getting to meet the legendary Sir Bobby, who was both friendly and generous. He transcended the labels of celebrity and superstar, embodying a greatness that surpassed those titles. His grace and humility were truly remarkable. In terms of sports, he belongs in the same esteemed league as Pelé and Muhammad Ali, a short yet prestigious list. John Lynch
Bobby moved gracefully and freely across the field.
I grew up in Altrincham, which is now part of Greater Manchester. On Saturday mornings, I used to play for my school team and then go to Old Trafford one week, and Maine Road the next. Back then, football wasn’t as divided between teams. As a dedicated fan of the Blue team, I had the opportunity to watch players like Charlton, Best, and Law one week, and then Lee, Bell, and Summerbee the next.
I recall watching Bobby gracefully move across the field. He possessed a natural athleticism and although he may not have been the quickest, he was always one step ahead of his opponents. His ability to read the game was exceptional. And his shooting skills were impressive, whether using his left or right foot. While he may not have seen eye to eye with George Best due to different lifestyles, they had an incredible understanding on the field. As I approach my 70th birthday in February, I reflect on how football has played a significant role in my life and Bobby remains one of the greatest players I have ever witnessed. Rest in peace and thank you from a devoted fan, Howard Parkinson.
“He fiercely struck the ball with great force, sending it soaring into the uppermost corner of the goal.”
On October 22, 2005, I had the privilege of meeting Sir Bobby for the first time. It was shortly after I had become a scout for Manchester United. After our match against Tottenham, my family and I were invited to the directors’ lounge. That’s where we were introduced to Sir Bobby, who joined us at our table. I remember him as a quiet and dignified man who had a strong presence. His aura was evident in the way others behaved around him, and it was clear that we were in the presence of football royalty. He graciously invited us to see the trophy room with him, and even took a photo with us. It was on that day that I truly realized I had joined an incredible football club.
In 2009, I attended a coaching event in Israel where 150 children from both Arab and Jewish communities participated. The event was memorable as Sir Bobby, dressed impeccably in a cream linen suit, stayed for over an hour in the scorching 30C heat. He handed out signed shirts, engaged with the kids, and met with the coaches. During one of the drills, a coach was demonstrating shooting techniques when Sir Bobby surprised us all by requesting a ball to be passed to him. To our amazement, he then unleashed a powerful shot from 25 yards away that landed perfectly in the top corner of the goal. Everyone present was captivated by his display of skill. It was even more impressive considering he was 72 years old and wearing a suit and slip-on loafers.
As a scout, one of the highlights is meeting retired professional footballers who are still involved in the sport. It’s always interesting to hear stories about their careers. Pat Holland is a prime example of this. He played for West Ham for nearly 250 games and even won the FA Cup in 1975. Pat shared with me a memory from his early days in the first team when he was up against United. He was considered a promising player and was even predicted to play for England in the future. However, he had a humbling experience when he tried to challenge Bobby Charlton, one of the legendary players of that time. Despite Pat’s attempt to pressure him, Bobby effortlessly glided past him and made a perfect pass to his teammate from 40 yards away. He then received the ball back and scored a goal from 30 yards, leaving Pat and the goalkeeper stunned. This moment made Pat realize that he would never reach the same level as Bobby Charlton.
As I was cleaning his vehicle, I noticed all of his caps from his time playing for England.
During the late 1970s, when I was a paperboy, I used to deliver newspapers to Simon Hornby’s home in Lymm, Cheshire. I also had the opportunity to wash his car when I was a cub. While washing the car, I caught a glimpse through the front window of his house and saw his collection of England caps, which was truly amazing.
I have never witnessed such a powerful hit of a ball.
In 1962, I began attending Old Trafford frequently with a friend from school. I did not miss a single home game until I left for university in 1968. Regrettably, I was unable to attend the European Cup final due to an A-level exam in general studies, which has proved to be of little value to me.
I witnessed several impressive performances, but the most outstanding was during the 1967 Charity Shield match against Spurs. The game had a variety of elements: Pat Jennings scored a goal by kicking the ball from his hands the entire length of the field, and Bobby scored two incredibly powerful shots. I was positioned behind the goal at the Stretford End for both goals and have never seen a ball struck with such force. The second goal was from a distance of more than 20 yards and was hit so fiercely that it flew over Jennings’ head before he could even react. Despite being in an era of tough players, Bobby never responded with aggression, but instead showed immense competitiveness and dedication. His only weakness in the game was tackling, but that was covered by Nobby Stiles.
The trio of Best, Law, and Charlton were exceptional players for United, each possessing unique qualities. Although Law and Best may have occasionally struggled with aggression, this was never the case for Bobby. Observing him on the field revealed the beauty of football as an art. Together with Matt Busby, they played a significant role in establishing United as one of the most renowned clubs globally.
Even in the farthest corners of the globe, Bobby was known.
In 1997, I traveled to Argentina with the goal of reaching a valley in the Andes where a plane had crashed in 1972. Two survivors had successfully climbed a mountain and traveled to Chile for help, leaving behind the rest of the survivors. I was determined to see this mountain, so I went to Mendoza. The tourist office claimed it was impossible, but a young Argentinian woman informed me of a small village called El Sosneado deep in the Andes. She had met a gaucho named Jose Teletai who knew the way to the crash site.
He offered to pay me $400 if I could ride a horse. José didn’t know English and I only knew a little Spanish. We spent three nights camping in the Andes and talking around the campfire was challenging. One night, I asked if he knew any English words. He sadly shook his head. But five minutes later, he suddenly grinned and said, “Ah yes, Bobby Charlton.” That speaks volumes about Sir Bobby. I was with someone who had never traveled anywhere else, yet he knew of him. Jules
I encountered him during one of my initial journalistic tasks.
The initial objective that stands out in my memory was Charlton’s impressive goal (and the first for England in the tournament) against Mexico at Wembley during the 1966 World Cup. I had the chance to witness Charlton’s skills in person (although my recollections are faint) when he played for Manchester United against my team, Preston North End, in a 2-0 victory during the FA Cup in 1972 at Deepdale. Later, I also saw him as a player-manager for the Lilywhites.
I encountered him during one of my initial journalistic tasks (for the school publication) when we reached out to the new manager of North End to request an interview, never anticipating that we would be granted one. Naturally, he granted us ample time and, since it was an exclusive story, all three of us on the “editorial team” wanted to be present! That’s me on the right. Tony Paley.
“It may have been a small act, but it had a significant effect.”
During the mid-2010s, the school where I worked established a partnership with the Manchester United foundation. As the head of the art department, I was tasked with having my GCSE students create a series of paintings featuring United players. This was not an ideal assignment for me as I have been a season ticket holder for Liverpool since 1989. However, arrangements were made for Sir Bobby Charlton to visit the school, meet with staff and students, and view the United-themed portraits created by the students. As a gesture of appreciation for Sir Bobby’s visit, I painted a portrait of him during his prime in his 60s at Old Trafford.
When Sir Bobby and his wife, Lady Norma, arrived, I presented him with a painting after he had chatted with some students. He appeared to genuinely appreciate and be humbled by the gesture. One of the students in the group was a big fan of United but was also known to be talented yet wayward. I guided Sir Bobby to see the student’s work, a portrait of himself, and have a conversation. Sir Bobby even took the time to sign the back of the painting, which filled the student with pride and motivated him to work harder for the rest of the course. It may have been a small gesture from Sir Bobby, but it had a significant impact. He remained humble throughout and spent more time than expected admiring the artwork and talking to everyone, including Lady Norma who was also very lovely. On that day, I wore my red Liverpool tie and Sir Bobby praised Jürgen Klopp while we chatted. Mike Fox
My father competed against Bobby in a youth game.
Although my dad grew up in Moss Side and had a family of City supporters, he himself was a fan of the red team because of Bobby Charlton. In his youth, he even played against Bobby in a match where he scored all 12 goals for his team, while my dad scored the only goal for his own team. Despite losing, my dad was in awe of Bobby’s talent and did not sulk like a child. Even after the war when United shared their home ground with City, my dad would sneak into the stadium every week to watch both teams play.
The statement that he is a gentleman is accurate.
I was a young journalist covering the Mexico 86 World Cup. My initial task was to attend the draw event. As I was leaving the venue afterwards, I spotted Bobby and hurried to catch up with him. When I finally reached him, I was out of breath due to the high altitude in Mexico City. Being inexperienced, I was unsure of what to ask him. However, he kindly looked at me and quickly understood the situation, asking: “Would you like to know my thoughts on the draw?” It is indeed true that he is a true gentleman, as they say. – Guy Hayward
“We took him to a diner after a game.”
After a competition in Blackpool, I encountered him. I, along with a couple of other boys, accompanied Bobby Charlton and Denis Violet from the entrance for players to the main area of the town. Bobby was searching for a place to get some tea, so we directed him to a rundown café close to the stadium. Unfortunately, the café was not open, so we continued walking. Bobby was limping due to an injury he sustained earlier in the day. He requested directions to the train station, most likely to return to Manchester.
In 1960, the circumstances were vastly dissimilar. At the time, England’s top soccer player, who had a hurt leg, had to make his own arrangements to return to Manchester following a game in Blackpool. The team did not have a bus, and it’s possible that he had to cover his own transportation costs with his weekly salary of £10. This player was Colin Talbot.
“He was 45 years old, but we were unable to approach him.”
41 years ago, at the age of 15, I attended the Bobby Charlton Soccer School in Manchester for a week. Bobby was always present and never rushed to be elsewhere. Despite us being young and hopeful of becoming professional players, Bobby and his staff were aware that our chances were slim. However, this did not stop them from taking our training seriously and instilling a deep love for the game in us. Even though we may have ended up playing in amateur leagues or supporting our clubs, they treated us with great respect. Bobby often joined in our training and five-a-side games, and I noticed the qualities that set professionals apart from amateurs. Despite being 45 years old, he effortlessly outshined us on the field. He didn’t just run – he glided. And he never once showed off.
I remember his powerful, yet never boisterous voice always motivating us. His passion for the game was evident and unwavering. During one of our sessions, a young boy asked him about the Munich disaster. I cringed then, and still do when I think about it, but Bobby responded calmly and described the experience as horrific, stating that it would never be forgotten. Despite being a legend for Manchester United and myself being a fan of Liverpool, he was still easy to admire and respect.
The individual shared about the numerous days he spent as a child kicking a ball against a wall, honing his timing. He emphasized the importance of practice and never giving up on shooting, as there is always a chance for a deflection and a goal. This sentiment came from someone who was highly skilled in shooting, but he encouraged others to try as well. This was his lasting impact – his love for the game and lack of ego allowed others to also appreciate it.
We were amazed.
After the tragedy in Munich in 1958, my uncle made the decision for our school to fundraise for a memorial trophy in honor of Manchester United. As we were located only 10 miles away from Ashington, the hometown of Bobby Charlton, we were able to raise enough money. This led to a football competition among schools in the area, with the final taking place on the same morning as the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Bolton. Our school emerged as the winner, and although I have a vague recollection of scoring the winning goal, I cannot be certain. A few weeks later, we were presented with the trophy by Bobby Charlton himself. At the age of 10, we were all in awe of this experience. I still have the miniature “cup” that was given to us, which stands at about three inches tall. Over 40 years later, I had the opportunity to meet Bobby again and he even remembered the occasion. Whether or not this is true, it was a lovely gesture. The entire team still holds fond memories of him. Roy Ritson
“I witnessed him in action for Manchester United’s reserve team when he was only 16 years old.”
In the year following the Munich air disaster, he was at the peak of his career. During this time, Bobby led United to the FA Cup final and scored remarkable goals, often securing victory for the team when they seemed to have no chance. He was solely responsible for their advancement to the final.
When I first witnessed his performance, he was 16 years old and playing for the reserves at Old Trafford. News had spread about this talented young player who was destined for greatness at Manchester United. People even attended reserve matches just to catch a glimpse of Bobby Charlton in action. I had the opportunity to meet him before the 1966 World Cup, when the England team was training at Lilleshall. The team held an open day for fans before the games began, and I brought a group of schoolboys to meet the players. We interacted with them freely, and I had the chance to chat with Bobby. There were no security measures in place and everyone mingled without restrictions. He was a player and a man that I was proud to have met. Bert Morris.
He exuded warmth, had a friendly smile, and was talkative.
In 2011, I and my students advocated for the installation of blue plaques on the residences of the athletes who lost their lives in the Munich air disaster. Sir Bobby revealed the plaque for Duncan Edwards. He visited our school and engaged in lengthy discussions with the students. He was not what I had anticipated based on his TV appearances – serious and distant. But without the presence of cameras, he was friendly, cheerful, and talkative. I had the privilege of chatting with him for an hour, and it was a great honor. He was a true gentleman.
‘He must have signed a thousand programmes’
In September 1976, I had the opportunity to meet Bobby Charlton at the old Ajax stadium in Amsterdam. This was significant as it was Manchester United’s first European game since their loss in the 1969 European Cup semi-final against Milan. This loss came after the club had gone through relegation and promotion. My friends and I had been traveling around Europe for a month and decided to spend our last evening watching United play. We ended up sleeping in a multi-storey car park. Despite United’s 1-0 loss in a rather uneventful game, Bobby made an appearance in the away section of the stadium during half-time. He was there to support the team and be a part of European football once again. He kindly signed numerous programs, including ours.
‘He gave me some great memories’
In August 1969, I was working a summer job at Benllech Bay in Anglesey, where Sir Bobby owned a house. On Saturday, United had a match against Crystal Palace and the following evening, a familiar face approached the small kiosk where I worked to purchase cigarettes – at the time, many footballers were smokers. I was extremely nervous and blurted out, “You’re Bobby Charlton and I’m a fan of Manchester United.” He simply smiled, paid for his items, and continued on his way. This is a moment that has stayed with me ever since. I had the opportunity to watch him play multiple times, both at home and away, and he provided me with countless fond memories. Peter Gilbert Summers.
He excelled at playing darts.
In 1967, while attending school in Lymm, I had the opportunity to meet Bob Charlton, who resided in the village at the time. As teenagers, my friends and I would often sneak a half pint of mild and practice our darts skills in the back room of the Bull’s Head pub. One evening, to our surprise, Bob Charlton and Pat Crerand joined us and challenged us to a game. Despite their friendly and humble demeanor, they easily defeated us. Bob Charlton was a skilled darts player.
I recall the parade that took place following their victory in the World Cup.
My mother and him attended the same school in Bedlington and were neighbors in Ashington. I was skeptical until we encountered him in a store in Newcastle, where he recognized her immediately and they had a lengthy conversation. He was very modest. I have a memory of Jack and Bobby being celebrated in Ashington with an open-top car ride after winning the World Cup. -David Burdis
“I was required to bring a case of beer into the changing room.”
During my time as an apprentice at West Brom, we faced Manchester United at the Hawthorns. I greatly admired Denis Law and was starstruck when I met him, but I didn’t realize that Bobby Charlton and George Best were also in the dressing room. One of my duties was to make sure there was a crate of beer in the dressing room for the players after the game. As I placed the crate under the treatment table, Sir Bobby exclaimed (paraphrased): “Alright lads, let’s hit the road and grab a couple of pints.” I was surprised to learn that Bobby Charlton drinks! It was a moment of naivety on my part.