Bobby Charlton – Manchester United legend with 249 goals: The career in 30 retro photographs
As Wayne Rooney became all-time highest goal-scorer for Manchester United but we must not forget the legend who scored 249 goals from 758 appearances between 1956 and 1973 and played a critical role to establish Manchester United as one of the most prestigious institutions of football. Goalden Times presents a photographic journey of the sublime career of Sir Bobby Charlton whose goal-scoring record was untouched for many decades.
Which name comes first to your mind if you are asked to name the perfect brand ambassador of English football? I bet that eight out of ten answers would be Sir Bobby Charlton. The ever humble superstar of England and Manchester United, had it all in him. He had the athleticism, dribbling skill, grace and above all a venomous shooting skill that his opponents always feared. He was a champion, captained the only World Cup England ever won in football, won the European glory for his club and became the second Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or. He also scored record number of goals for both club and countries, records that stood for next few decades after his retirement. Who else could break that record save Wayne Rooney!
He was born in a football fanatic family; his mother was a Milburn, and her cousin was none other than famous Jackie Milburn. Bobby became a sensation right after a school match between English boys against Wales. Scouts from multiple teams came to meet him after the match, but he had already made up his mind to play for the Manchester United; the decision that changed the fate of Bobby and Manchester United.
Manchester United was already having a transformation under legendary Sir Matt Busby, and Charlton played a huge role in Busby’s master plan. ‘Busby babes’, as they were referred to under Sir Busby, had already made their presence felt in the English football, but they sought continental glory too. Their first attempt ended in the semi-final of European cup losing out to the eventual champions Real Madrid in 1957, but they had another shot next year securing the league again at home but they not even had the slightest clue, what their fate is holding onto them.
February 6 1958 is considered as one of the darkest days of world football. The flight carrying ‘Busby Babes’ back from Belgrade burst into flames in Munich due to a failure during take-off after refueling. The twenty-year-old Bobby survived with a cut on his head, but that snowy afternoon in Munich took away seven of his teammates. Jimmy Murphy took over the mantle from Sir Busby, and tried to fix the shattered team, where Charlton again played an important role.
Charlton made it to the national World Cup squad in 1958, right after the Munich disaster, but remained on the bench. But in 1962, he was a valuable asset of his team. Though he had to wait again, but that did not end up in vain. His performance against the Portuguese in the 1966 semi-final is still widely remembered as one of the greatest display in World Cup by an Englishman. While Geoff Hurst made the headlines in the final, Franz Beckenbauer admitted after the match, “England beat us in 1966 because Bobby Charlton was just a bit better than me.” Charlton achieved the ultimate glory of world football.
But his story did not end here, he have to had the perfect ending to Manchester United’s biggest victory till date when he smashed home two goals in the extra time in a highly emotional match against Benfica in the 1968 European Cup final. Manchester United became the first English team to taste the continental glory under Sir Busby.
But beside all these statistics and fandom, he was a gentleman, a role model to all. You would never see him arguing with the referee or disrespecting any opponents. He was the old-fashioned sporting hero every Englishmen loved. As Sir Busby said, “He was as near perfection as man and player as it is possible to be.”
Words: Tamas Sinha
Photographs: The photographs are not owned by Goalden Times and we do not claim ownership of these images by any means. All the images are sole property of the respective owners. A huge thanks to Inter Leaning, Daily Star, Manchester United, Thinkfootballideas, BCSSA, Pinterest, The Sun for the brilliant archive.