Sir Bobby Charlton’s iconic moments for Manchester United and England

One of only a handful of England players to have won a World Cup, Bobby Charlton created a lasting legacy for both club and country.

The word legend is thrown around plenty nowadays, but Sir Bobby Charlton truly is one of the game's greats.

Born in Northumberland, Charlton was picked up in his youth by Manchester United, and after a short period in their youth set-up, was integrated into the first team.

Under Matt Busby, Charlton became one of the famed 'Busby Babes' - the group of young players that formed an integral part of Busby's plans to rebuild the club following World War II.

While he made his name at Manchester United, Bobby's brother, Jack was also carving out a soccer career of his own, becoming a legend at rivals Leeds United.

A World Cup, a European Cup and a knighthood, Planet Sport takes a look at just some of the iconic moments from Bobby Charlton's legendary career.

FA Cup drama

After making his debut against namesakes Charlton, Sir Bobby went on to appear 14 times for the Red Devils in the 1956/57 season, scoring 12 times.

United were crowned league champions and had the chance to secure the 20th century's first double when they faced Aston Villa in the 1957 FA Cup final.

Charlton was named as a starter, but United's hopes suffered a setback when goalkeeper Ray Wood was carried off with a broken cheekbone. Substitutes had yet to be introduced, meaning an outfield player was required to take over between the sticks.

Although 19-year-old Charlton was considered for the role, it was team-mate Jackie Blanchflower who took over in goal.

Unfortunately for the Red Devils, Villa capitalised on their man advantage, and took a 2-0 lead courtesy of Peter McParland's brace. Tommy Taylor clawed one back for Busby's side with seven minutes to go but it wasn't enough to stop the Villains lifting the cup.

The tragedy of the Munich air disaster

After a hugely successful debut season, Charlton not only retained his place in the side, but quickly became an established player for United in the following campaign.

As league champions, United were entered into the European Cup, becoming the first English team to do so. The FA often looked down upon the competition, but eventually gave the green light for English participation.

And United managed to compete, reaching the semi-finals before eventually losing to the holders, Real Madrid.

Following their success, United were looking forward to trying to better their previous finish and go all the way in Europe.

Their dreams started brightly and they overcame Shamrock Rovers and Dukla Prague before edging past Red Star Belgrade in the quarter-final courtesy of a 5-4 aggregate win. Another semi-final awaited Busby's babes.

But tragically, on their way home from the match, the plane carrying United's squad suffered a crash.

The plane had been forced to stop to refuel in Munich, by which time heavy snow was falling. But despite two already aborted take-offs, a third was attempted and the plane clipped a fence at the end of the runway, causing a violent crash just outside the airport.

Of the 44 passengers on board, 23 people - including eight Manchester United players - passed away, while two of the eight injured players suffered injuries that prevented them ever playing again.

England's first European winners

Still just 20, Charlton returned to Manchester eight days after the crash, and made his first appearance back on the pitch on March 1 - not even a month since the tragedy.

As part of their rebuild, United were left borrowing and finding new players for their squad, yet managed to win their first game back 1-0.

In the European Cup, United were unsurprisingly knocked out by AC Milan, and also went on to lose the FA Cup final to Bolton Wanderers.

As Busby continued to rebuild the squad following the disaster, their first success came just years on in the 1963 FA Cup. Charlton's third final in the competition finally rewarded him with a winners' medal after a 3-1 victory over Leicester City.

Further league titles followed in 1965 and 1967, but United's real goal was the European Cup. In 1968, ten years after the disaster, United reached the final where they faced Benfica.

In a hugely emotional night at Wembley, Charlton captained the side and scored twice in a 4-1 win as Manchester United became the first English side to lift the European Cup.

A record-breaking Red

Despite winning on Europe's biggest stage in 1968, United slumped following Busby's retirement in 1971 and struggled not only to win silverware, but also to stay in the England's top division.

United's holy trinity of Charlton, George Best and Denis Law began to see their relationship fray and as a result the club's performances deteriorated.

Charlton left United at the end of the 1972/73 season as their top scorer and appearance holder. His 249 goals has only been bettered by Wayne Rooney, while his record 758 appearances was surpassed by Ryan Giggs in 2008.

World Cup conquest

While Charlton enjoyed an abundance of success in the red of Manchester United, he also played a pivotal part in England's golden era.

He received his first call-up just two months after the Munich disaster, and was highlighted as one of England's most promising stars.

Charlton was called up to England's 1958 World Cup squad, but failed to make an appearance as the Three Lions were knocked out in the group stage.

After a quarter-final exit in the 1962 edition, Alf Ramsey took charge of the side and made it clear that he intended to build the team around Charlton.

In the opening game of the 1966 World Cup, England drew 0-0 with Uruguay before back-to-back 2-0 wins over Mexico and France.

England bettered their 1962 finish by beating Argentina 1-0 in the quarter-finals, before Charlton's brace in the semi-finals helped the hosts to a 2-1 win over Portugal.

In the final, England faced West Germany and a 29-year-old Charlton lined up against none other than Franz Beckenbauer. Albeit one of Charlton's quieter games, England ended up winning 4-2 in extra-time to secure their first - and only - World Cup.

Stand and celebrate

Now the top scorer for both Manchester United and England, Sir Bobby Charlton had cemented his legacy as one of England's greatest ever.

In recognition of his achievements and service to the club, Manchester United announced that the South Stand at Old Trafford was to be renamed in his honour.

United unveiled the new stand in 2016 before their Premier League fixture against Everton.

In November 2020, it was revealed that Charlton, still a regular visitor to Old Trafford, was suffering with dementia. His brother Jack, who had died earlier that year, also had the condition.

READ MORE: Wayne Rooney’s iconic moments for Manchester United, Everton and England

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