It was an embrace between two footballing brothers that encapsulated the national mood of elation after England‘s 1966 World Cup triumph.
After the final whistle blew at Wembley Stadium, a joyous Sir Bobby Charlton hugged his big brother Jack as the enormity of their achievement started to sink in.
But behind iconic photo of the footballing heroes was said to be a treacherous relationship, which led to a bitter 42-year feud.
The story behind the row comes as the sporting world today mourns the death of 86-year-old Sir Bobby. Jack died three years earlier, in July 2020, aged 85.
The brother’s family battle started to fester after Bobby married his wife Norma in 1961, amid claims of tension between sibling’s mother, Cissie, and Norma.
Questions were sparked when Sir Bobby failed to attend Jack’s funeral, in 2020. In reality, the Manchester United legend was battling dementia like his brother had.
The extraordinary image of brotherhood masked a complex relationship between two very different personalities who at times clashed off the pitch while complementing each other on it
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
Years of growing antipathy exploded in 1996 when Jack criticised Bobby for failing to visit Cissie in her final years and suggesting that had been influenced by Norma.
A decade later, Bobby described Jack’s claims about his wife as ‘absolutely disgraceful’. Writing in a book in 2007, he confessed he and his brother had ‘never been further apart than we are now’, adding: ‘I just don’t want to know him.’
The sibling’s dislike for one another appeared to show now sign of abating, with Sir Bobby later saying his brother had made a ‘big mistake’.
Their relationship seemed irreparably broken but they were very publicly reconciled a year later when Bobby was presented with a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award. Jack agreed to present the trophy and told his sibling: ‘Bobby Charlton is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. And he’s my brother.’
The pair embraced – just as they had on the turf at Wembley 42 years earlier.
Then, in 2018, the brothers were pictured together again – for the first time in years – when they attended the funeral of their 1966 teammate Ray Wilson.
Both Bobby and Jack had widely different personalities. Jack was outgoing and confident, while his younger brother was more reserved and shy.
While Bobby and Jack were both gifted players, Bobby was usually picked ahead of his taller brother. Indeed, when Leeds United offered Jack a trial, their mother Cissie asked whether they had intended to ask Bobby.
Academically, they also went in very different directions. Bobby passed the 11-plus and went to Bedlington Grammar. Jack failed the exam and attended Hirst Park Secondary Modern School.
Their relationship seemed irreparably broken but they were very publicly reconciled a year later when Bobby was presented with a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award. Jack agreed to present the trophy and told his sibling: ‘Bobby Charlton is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. And he’s my brother’
After leaving school, Jack worked for a few weeks as a miner at the Linton colliery, where his father had worked, but soon decided to leave and pursue his dream of becoming a footballer.
Cissie, whose cousin was Jackie Milburn, one of England’s most famous post-war players, always showed a keen interest in her sons’ exploits – both on and off the pitch.
On the night of England’s victory in 1966, Jack sneaked away from the official reception at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, West London, and enjoyed a long night of partying.
When he eventually returned to the hotel, his mother was waiting for him in the foyer. ‘Where have you been?’ Cissie demanded. ‘I’ve been up to your room and the bed hasn’t been slept in!’
Early in their careers and despite playing for rivals Leeds and Manchester United, the brothers were close. Jack asked Bobby to be his best man when he married Pat Kemp in 1958. ‘It was not through convention, but because he was my best friend,’ he later said.
Sir Bobby Charlton (pictured holding a ball with United written on it during an interview with local press at a hotel in Hong Kong in 2005) will forever go down as one of the greatest players to play for Man United and England
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
Few have left a greater mark on football than mesmerising midfielder Bobby Charlton (pictured here for Man United in 1968)
Jack died in in July 2020. The 2021 documentary, ‘Finding Jack Charlton’, was filmed during the last 18 months of his life and gave an insight into the effect dementia had.
A recording in the film sees Jack describing his role as the older brother, born over two years before Bobby.
Jack says: ‘I had to look after him during the day and make sure he was OK. I didn’t like it. I liked the sea, I liked the countryside and Bobby didn’t. He liked to be around my mother, he liked to be at home. I could have done more things without him than I had to do with him.’
Though another recording in the show gives Sir Bobby’s perspective, suggesting Jack was not the easiest of people to get along with.
Bobby claims: ‘My brother was an uncompromising character. I watched him in a derby match – he gave a goal away and they lost. I said to him after: “You were stupid giving that daft goal awa”. He punched me straight off the back of the couch on to the floor.’
Legendary footballer Sir Bobby, who was born in Ashington, Northumberland, on October 11, 1937, is widely viewed as one of the greats of the game and was part of England’s 1966 World Cup winning side.
Following his death, Sir Geoff Hurst – who famously scored a hat-trick in England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany at Wembley – is now the only member of the team still alive. Former England right-back George Cohen died aged 83 in December.
Sir Bobby Charlton is pictured representing his country against Wales in April 1970
Sir Bobby Charlton was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994, having previously been awarded the OBE and CBE
A statement from the family of Sir Bobby 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 they were mourning ‘one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of our club.’
Sir Bobby was diagnosed with dementia in November 2020, just four months after his elder brother Jack Charlton – another 1966 hero – died aged 85. He was one of five of England’s 1966 winners to suffer from the debilitating illness after his brother, Nobby Stiles, Ray Wilson and Martin Peters.
Charlton went on to have an extraordinary career after surviving the Munich Air Disaster in 1958 – when he was 20 – which tragically killed eight of United’s Busby Babes and 23 people in total.
Charlton (in a Munich hospital) survived the Munich Air Disaster in 1958 when he was just 20 years old which tragically killed eight of United’s Busby Babes and 23 people in total
He scored 249 goals for Man United – including two in the famous 1968 European Cup final win over Benfica. Pictured: Charlton with his manager Sir Matt Busby (second from right), Jimmy Murphy (left) and Jack Crompton after the final
Bobby Charlton with his wife Norma and two daughters Suzanne and Andrea in their garden at home in the 1960s
In a glittering 17-year spell with United – where he played as if every game was for his fallen team-mates – he won three league titles, the FA Cup and captained the Red Devils when they became the first English club to win the European Cup.
Sir Bobby went on to score 249 goals for Man United – including two in the famous 1968 European Cup final win over Benfica.
Charlton is one of the ‘Holy Trinity’ along with George Best and Denis Law who are immortalised in a statue outside Old Trafford. In 2016, he also had the South Stand at the iconic stadium named after him which is opposite the Sir Alex Ferguson stand.
Sir Bobby also scored 49 goals for his country and won the Ballon d’Or in 1966 for his part in England’s World Cup triumph. His goal records for club and country both lasted decades until they were overtaken by Man United legend Wayne Rooney.
Following his retirement from football, Sir Bobby managed Preston North End from 1973 to 1975 and was later director at Wigan Athletic. Returning to United as a member of the board of directors in 1984, Sir Bobby was a constant presence at Old Trafford until recent years.
He and his wife Lady Norma – who were married for over 60 years – would take their seats week in, week out to watch the Red Devils march out and play at the Theatre of Dreams.
Sir Bobby – who’s bitter feud with his brother Jack was well documented before they made amends – was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994, having previously been awarded the OBE and CBE.
Sir Alex Ferguson once praised Sir Bobby for how he ‘handled the greatness’. In a tribute on his 80th birthday, the former United manager said: ‘Success can change people, and it’s never changed Bobby Charlton. He is what he is: quiet, shy and I think it’s fantastic.
Pictured: Sir Bobby Charlton attends the unveiling of a stand renamed in his honour in 2016
Charlton (R) is one of the ‘Holy Trinity’ along with George Best (L) and Denis Law (R) who are immortalised in a statue outside Old Trafford
England’s Martin Peters, George Cohen, Jack Charlton, Bobby Moore, Ray Wilson and Bobby Charlton (R) parade the Jules Rimet trophy around Wembley in 1966
The gifted footballer won the Ballon d’Or in 1966 for his part in England’s World Cup triumph
Sir Alex Ferguson speaks to Sir Bobby Charlton during a training session at Carrington Training Ground in 2013
‘An example for anyone who enters football. He has never forgotten his roots. That girl Norma has been his rock, all his life. She’s an unbelievable person and that is a great partnership.
‘I think he was responsible for me getting the job at Manchester United. We used to go to games all the time — although I don’t think Bobby enjoyed my driving! — so it was a great introduction.’