Should Wayne Rooney be knighted
London (AP) - Sir Bobby Charlton is still amazed today when he looks at the "United Trinity" monument in front of Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium.
"Sometimes I can't believe I'm up there," says the football icon in a new BBC documentary. As he walks across the lawn of the stadium where he used to dance the opponents, he gets sentimental: "The best thing I have ever done was to sign with this club. It's just magic."
On the occasion of Sir Bobby Charlton's 80th birthday (October 11th), the football celebrities are congratulating these days. Ex-international David Beckham said he owed everything to Charlton. "I went to Bobby Charlton Football School and won the tournament," said Beckham. "Then Sir Bobby called Manchester United and said, 'Maybe you should check out this boy.' That's how my career began."
Charlton's career began in 1956 when he was discovered by United, whose team was then coached by the legendary Matt Busby. Only two years later he had his blackest hours with the team. "Yes, that changed my life," remembers the English soccer world champion almost 60 years later, still visibly moved by the catastrophe in Munich. In the 1958 plane crash, Charlton lost several friends.
The team was on their way home from a European Cup game in Belgrade. After a stopover in Munich, the machine had starting problems in bad weather. "We didn't even take off," says Charlton. "We crashed into a house and I believe in a few other obstacles. It was just a nightmare." 23 people were killed. "I was just lucky that I was seated in the right place," he says as one of 21 survivors.
At the age of 20, Charlton was at the beginning of his career. Somehow, things had to go on with United even after the accident. "I was wondering how we should recover from this and what we're going to do," said the former midfielder. "We had to work particularly hard." That should be worth it.
Charlton's prime came in the mid-1960s. In 1965 he won the English championship with the Red Devils. A year later he celebrated the greatest triumph of his career when he celebrated the Three Lions' only world championship title to date in front of Queen Elizabeth II in front of Queen Elizabeth II. “It was paradise, just paradise,” enthuses Charlton.
In 1968, two years after the World Cup triumph and ten years after the Munich disaster, they won the European Cup with Manchester United. "It just wouldn't have been right if Man United had never won the European Cup," said Charlton. "But then it became standard." The 4-1 win against Benfica Lisbon was perhaps the most emotional moment of his career. In the final he scored two goals.
1973 Bobby Charlton ended his active career - as a record scorer for England (49 goals) and Manchester United (249), as a record player for the club with 758 competitive games. It wasn't until decades later that Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs overtook these records.
Charlton took on some managerial jobs and was also active as a trainer for a short time. Above all, however, he remained loyal to his beloved club, of which he is still a member of the board today. "The best part is that I can see all the games for free," he says with a laugh.
In 1994 he was knighted by the Queen and has been allowed to call himself "Sir" ever since. With his foundation "Find A Better Way", Bobby Charlton campaigns against landmines and supports prosthesis research. A good cause is close to the heart of the humble star. "He was always successful - but above all in helping other people," said Beckham on the occasion of the anniversary. "That's what makes him so special. He's adored on the field, but even more so off the field."
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