Thousands of people took to the streets of Manchester on Monday, braving the gray and drizzle, to pay their last respects to Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the legends of the Red Devils, who died last month at the age of 86. The hearse, carrying the famous player's coffin through the city to Manchester Cathedral, was warmly applauded as it passed by the large crowd.
On its route, the procession passed several emblematic places closely linked to the footballer's career: the legendary Old Trafford stadium, scene of all his exploits, and the famous "United Trinity", a statue immortalizing Charlton, Denis Law and George Best, other legends of the Mancunian club. A thousand guests, including former Red Devils coach Alex Ferguson, current England coach Gareth Southgate, and Prince William, then attended the religious service, which began at 2 p.m. local time ( 15:00 GMT).
Other personalities present at this mass, some former and current players of MU, such as Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane or the ex-captain, Bryan Robson, who declared to the BBC that Bobby Charlton was “a fantastic player, but more a beautiful person, available to everyone.” “He never got a big head, nothing mattered more to him than playing as well as possible, for Manchester United and England. He was a humble man, a model family man,” added Alex Stepney, a former teammate of his.
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The former attacking midfielder, 1966 world champion, considered one of the greatest players in the history of English football, died on October 21, after an accidental fall in the retirement home where he resided. Born in Ashington, a working-class town in the north-east of England on October 11, 1937, Bobby Charlton joined the ranks of Manchester United at the age of 15, the club with which he was crowned English champion in 1957. Other trophies followed, including the title of European club champion in 1968, for the man who then became director of the club. With the “Three Lions”, he had a total of 106 caps, scoring 49 goals, before retiring from international football after the 1970 World Cup.
But he was also part of the history of an entire country, beyond his exploits on the field, since he escaped death during the Munich air disaster on February 6, 1958. That day, the Red Devils had made a stopover in Bavaria, coming from Belgrade where they had qualified for the semi-finals of the Champion Clubs' Cup the day before at the expense of Red Star. Due to the snow, the aircraft was unable to take off properly. He hit a house and a fuel warehouse which caught fire. Charlton escaped with minor injuries. “Not a day goes by that I don't remember what happened and the people who left,” he said.