Football icon Sir Bobby Charlton has died at the age of 86 following a battle with dementia, his family announced today.
The legendary England midfielder, who was a key part of the 1966 World Cup-winning team, passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by loved ones. His death comes just weeks after he was pictured receiving a covid-19 vaccine while bravely battling the disease.
Sir Bobby had been diagnosed with dementia in November 2020, with his wife Lady Norma confirming the tragic news. He is survived by Lady Norma, their two children Suzanne and Andrea, and his grandchildren.
Manchester United, the club Sir Bobby represented with distinction during his illustrious playing career, paid tribute saying he “will always be remembered as a giant of the game”. He made 758 appearances for United, scoring 249 goals and winning the European Cup, three league titles and the FA Cup.
For England, Sir Bobby won 106 caps and scored 49 goals, cementing his status as a national treasure following the 1966 World Cup triumph at Wembley. He later served United with distinction as a director for 39 years until retiring in 2019.
The legendary midfielder had withdrawn from public life after his diagnosis, tragically following his elder brother and fellow World Cup winner Jack Charlton, who passed away in July 2020.
Sir Bobby’s death leaves 1966 final hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst as the only surviving member of England’s cherished World Cup winners.
In a statement, Sir Bobby’s family said: “It is with great sadness that we share the news that Sir Bobby passed peacefully in the early hours of Saturday morning. He was surrounded by his family.”
“His family would like to pass on their thanks to everyone who has contributed to his care and for the many people who have loved and supported him. We would request that the family’s privacy be respected at this time.”
Manchester United said the club was mourning “one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of our club.”
Sir Bobby’s diagnosis with dementia came amid growing concerns over the links between football and neurodegenerative disease. A number of his 1966 teammates had already been diagnosed with dementia before their deaths.
The football icon’s brave decision to make his diagnosis public was hailed for raising awareness of dementia and inspiring others battling the condition. His loss leaves English football bereft of one of its most admired and influential figures.
In a towering career, Sir Bobby made history with England and Manchester United, captivating fans worldwide with his inspirational leadership, skill and goals. He will be remembered as a true gentleman and giant of the beautiful game.
Image credit: Jack de Nijs