England's most famous footballing son, Sir Bobby represented everything that was good about English football from the 1950's until the 1970's. He was a supremely gifted attacker, able to dictate the pattern of a game with his mere presence or more famously with his blisteringly powerful shooting. Always the perfect gentleman on and off the field, Charlton was responsible for some of England's most sensational goals.
He was born in Ashington, Northumberland, the nephew of the great Jackie Milburn. With the encouragement of his mother who took a keen interest in his development, Charlton showed vast early promise and was snapped up by Manchester United in 1954. One of the 'Busby Babes', he landed a League championship medal in 1957 and subsequently took part in the following season's European Cup campaign that ended in tragedy when United's plane crashed after a quarter-final tie in Belgrade. He survived and bounced back despite the huge trauma to earn the first of his 106 international caps later that year.
In 1963 he inspired United to success in the FA Cup with a 3-1 victory over Leicester City then captured the League championship twice in 1965 and 1967. By now an established international, Charlton played a major role in England's World Cup triumph of 1966, scoring wonder goals against Mexico and in the semifinal against Portugal. He picked up the European Footballer of the Year for his magical performances in the tournament before firing in twice against Benfica in the European Cup final of 1968 as United became the first English team to lift the trophy.
Charlton played out his international career during the 1970 World Cup finals when England, on paper, looked a stronger team than four years before. During the quarterfinal against West Germany, with England in front, Sir Alf Ramsey controversially substituted Bobby to rest him for the semi. It proved to be his final England appearance as the Germans famously came back to knock England out.
Charlton eventually left Old Trafford in 1973 to serve briefly as player-manager at Preston North End. He retired having scored 247 goals in 754 games and still holds England's goalscoring record with 49. He was knighted for his services to sport in 1994 and remains England's greatest sporting ambassador with regular promotional involvement for various British Olympic and World Cup bids.