Sir Bob, as I knew him, dedicated his life to Manchester United and I consider myself very fortunate to have known him.
He was described by Sir Matt Busby, his great mentor, as ‘as close to perfection for a man and player as it is possible to be’. That summed him up.
He was immensely talented, but what happened during the Munich air disaster of 1958 made him all the more determined to succeed, not so much for himself but for the beloved friends and teammates he lost.
The legacy of the Busby Babes and the style in which they played has long been the template for how United teams should perform and he has continued that above all else.
He was a modest, very private man, despite what he achieved, and he kept his emotions to himself.
Sir Bobby Charlton was the perfect gentleman off the field and the perfect footballer on it
Former Manchester United captain Bryan Robson has explained how Charlton dedicated his life to the club
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But when I became a United ambassador, I got to know him better.
I often accompanied Sir Bob to the annual commemoration in Munich to remember those who died in the fateful crash of 1958.
I know he often said he felt guilty for being one of those who survived, but he never wanted to talk about it. Then one day I gathered the courage to say, “Tell me what happened.”
He walked me to where the plane landed and up the road to the old airport, telling me what he remembered.
Sir Matt Busby (second from right) described him as ‘as close to perfection for a man and player as you can get’
It was incredibly emotional for him and even more so for me to listen to him talk about that night. As we walked and talked, I felt incredibly privileged that he wanted to share those moments with me. So much so that I have never shared the details of that conversation and never will out of respect for him. All I can say is that he made those great friends proud. He was the perfect role model for every player.
A principled man with impeccable morals, he was kind, thoughtful, but also a great competitor. Pele, Eusebio, Franz Beckenbauer and his great colleagues all had great respect for him, not just because he was a gentleman, but they recognized that he was a great player and had an aggressive edge.
When I signed for United from West Bromwich Albion in 1981, it meant everything to me that he came looking for me. That has always stayed with me.
He will rightly and forever remain a giant of club and country; always remembered as the perfect gentleman, the perfect footballer.
IT’S ALL GOING OFF!