Sir Bobby Charlton‘s only surviving sibling today led tributes to the 1966 hero, declaring: ‘He was an icon to me but he was my big brother’, ahead of his funeral today.
Tommy Charlton, 77, believes the Manchester United and England midfielder has been reunited with their older sibling Jack Charlton in heaven.
Today Manchester will say goodbye to Sir Bobby, who died last month after a fall at a care home where he was suffering from dementia.
The miner’s son from Northumberland became a global icon after he won the World Cup, European Cup, three English league titles and the FA Cup as well as the Ballon d’Or – only one of six UK players to do so. His achievements are were all the more remarkable given he almost died in the Munich Air Disaster in 1958.
Thousands will line the streets this afternoon ahead of a memorial service at Manchester Cathedral, where greats of the game and his loved-ones will gather. The funeral procession to the cathedral will pass by his beloved Old Trafford.
Tommy Charlton told the BBC: ‘He was my big brother. My fondest memories are when he was my brother. You’d meet him at the game and Bob would straighten your tie, and make sure your jacket was right and say you should have worn a different colour shirt. That was being a brother and I loved that’.
A service celebrating Sir Bobby Charlton’s life will take place at Manchester Cathedral today
Bobby Charlton (R) celebrates England’s 1966 World Cup victory. From left to right: Jack Charlton, Nobby Stiles, Gordon Banks (behind), Alan Ball, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson, George Cohen and Bobby Charlton
Sir Bobby and his brother Jack – who died three years ago – embrace after an England vs West Germany game in 1985. The brothers had a bitter feud but reconciled in later life
Sir Bobby Charlton pictured with his wife Norma at an event in Germany in September 2014
Sir Bobby is survived by his wife Lady Norma, their two daughters Suzanne and Andrea and grandchildren.
The footballer, who was born in Ashington on October 11 1937, is widely viewed as one of England’s greatest players, scoring 49 goals in 106 appearances and playing a crucial role in the World Cup triump of 1966.
The son of a miner, he joined United as a schoolboy and was part of the iconic Busby Babes team.
He survived the Munich air disaster when the plane taking them back to Manchester crashed, killing 23 people including eight players and three staff members.
A decade on, he was part of the great United team that won the European Cup in 1968.
Manchester United has said today’s service would provide a ‘moment of reflection’ and give fans an opportunity ‘to say a final farewell to a true Manchester United legend’.
In a statement issued after this death last month, Prince William said Sir Bobby was ‘a true great who will be remembered forever’.
The FA president added: ‘Sir Bobby Charlton. First Division Champion. European Champion. World Champion. Gentleman. Legend. A true great who will be remembered forever. Thank you Sir Bobby. W.’
The club and England legend passed away at the age of 86 last month and a service celebrating his life will take place at Manchester Cathedral on Monday.
Mail Sport understands that United have contacted each of their top-flight rivals with an invitation to what promises to be an emotional event.
It is expected that each will send a senior official to pay their respects to Sir Bobby, who won the World Cup and who was revered across the planet.
Sir Bobby Charlton is pictured representing his country against Wales in April 1970
Tributes to the late Sir Bobby Charlton next to his statue outside Old Trafford
Bobby Charlton with his wife Norma and two daughters Suzanne and Andrea in their garden at home in the 1960s
The procession will then be escorted from the stadium to the cathedral in the heart of the city centre.
Every living United captain has been invited to the service, which will not be broadcast. Around 1,000 are expected to be present, including players from across the eras at United including the Class of 92. Other greats from different sports, such as Sir Ian Botham, are also expected.
A number of eulogies will be made, from family members, those who worked alongside Sir Bobby at United and current staff.
Since news of Sir Bobby’s passing, in the early hours of October 21, was announced, tens of thousands have signed books of condolence.
A minute’s applause was held at the Manchester derby the following day, while Sir Alex Ferguson penned a moving 1,000-word eulogy in the match programme.
Sir Bobby died after accidentally falling at the care home where he was battling dementia, an inquest heard earlier this month.
The 1966 World Cup winner lost his balance as he stood up from a chair and struck a windowsill and ‘possibly a radiator’, Cheshire Coroner’s Court heard.
Staff performed a full-body check at the time and noted no visible injuries, and initially found the 86-year-old’s mobility seemed unaffected.
A minute’s applause was held at the Manchester derby at Old Trafford the day after his passing
But they later noticed swelling on his back and paramedics were called to The Willows in Knutsford Cheshire, where he had been receiving respite care since July.
Sir Bobby was taken to hospital before being moved to Macclesfield General Hospital.
A chest X-ray and CT scan revealed he had fractured his ribs and was likely to develop pneumonia.
Doctors agreed he should be put on end-of-life care at the hospital, the inquest heard. He died on October 21, five days after his fall, at the age of 86.
It was heard that Sir Bobby was ‘unsteady on his feet, especially when standing from a seated position’ as a result of living with dementia.
The inquest in Warrington heard Sir Bobby had an extensive medical history, which included an appendix removal, gout, a urine infection and chest infections.
The inquest heard he had also contracted Covid in September.
Tamara Simmons, manager at the care home, said Sir Bobby ‘needed support with all aspects of daily living’.
Ms Simmons said his bed was as close to the ground as possible, with crash mats and motion sensors in place due to his restlessness making him likely to roll out of bed.
Senior coroner for Cheshire Jacqueline Devonish ruled that Sir Bobby’s death was accidental, giving the cause of death as trauma in the lungs, a fall and dementia.