Beckham hails England’s ‘national hero’ Charlton

Fellow Manchester United and England star David Beckham has praised “national hero” Sir Bobby Charlton as tributes poured in following the 1966 World Cup winner’s death at the age of 86.

Beckham came through the ranks at Manchester United having attended Bobby Charlton’s Soccer School and was given the middle name Robert as his father was such a fan of the 1968 European Cup winner.

“It all began with Sir Bobby. Sir Bobby was the reason I had the opportunity to play for Manchester United,” Beckham posted on instagram on Saturday.

“I will be forever grateful to a man I was named after, someone I looked up to and was a hero to many around the world not just in Manchester and our country where he won the World Cup in 1966.

“A true gentleman, family man and truly a national hero… Today isn’t just a sad day for Manchester United & England it’s a sad day for football and everything that Sir Bobby represented…

“Our thoughts go out to Lady Norma, their daughters and grandchildren x Rest in Peace Sir Bobby x @manchesterunited @england Today our hearts are heavy.”

Charlton had previously held the record as all-time top goalscorer for both England and United, where he also won the European Cup in 1968 and former Red Devils captain Gary Neville praised his impact in all aspects of the game.

“I think he is Manchester United’s greatest representative around the world and has been for 50/60 years,” Neville told Sky Sports.

“He was English football’s greatest player and greatest ambassador. A champion on and off the pitch.

“He was the golden thread through from Sir Matt Busby to Sir Alex Ferguson, two golden eras in Man Utd’s history and he was the constant through both of them.”

Charlton’s death means Sir Geoff Hurst is now the only man who started the 1966 World Cup final win over West Germany who is still alive.

Hurst, who hit a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory, also paid respect to his former team-mate, writing: “Very sad news today. 1 of the true Greats Sir Bobby Charlton has passed away. We will never forget him & nor will all of football.

“A great colleague & friend he will be sorely missed by all of the country beyond sport alone. Condolences to his family & friends from Geoff and Judith.”

Rio Ferdinand, another former captain of both England and United, posted a lengthy tribute to Charlton – dubbing him “Mr Manchester United”.

“The words he shared with me at the bottom of those stairs in Moscow, before I went up to lift the CL trophy will stay with me forever.”

Following their 2-1 win over Brighton, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola paid his respects.

“I think Sir Bobby Charlton represented United and English football like no-one else,” he said.


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