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Sir Bobby Charlton picture special: from surviving the Munich air disaster to enjoying unprecedented success on the pitch, look back at the extraordinary career of one of England’s final World Cup heroes following his death aged 86


Having emerged from the ashes of one of football’s most tragic events, Sir Bobby Charlton embarked on a incredible life in sport that saw him captain Manchester United as they became the first English team to win the European Cup in 1968, amongst countless other honours. This collection of photos displays some of the most memorable moments from his legendary career, both on, and off the pitch.  

A prodigious member of the Busby Babes, Sir Bobby Charlton was just 20 during the Munich air disaster in 1958

A prodigious member of the Busby Babes, Sir Bobby Charlton was just 20 during the Munich air disaster in 1958

Charlton spent a week in a German hospital before returning home, pictured here with his mother Cissie

Charlton spent a week in a German hospital before returning home, pictured here with his mother Cissie

Charlton returned to football after the tragedy and became an integral part of Sir Matt Busby's Manchester United side

Charlton returned to football after the tragedy and became an integral part of Sir Matt Busby’s Manchester United side

Charlton pictured alongside his wife Norma following the birth of their daughter Suzanne in November 1962

Charlton pictured alongside his wife Norma following the birth of their daughter Suzanne in November 1962

Charlton made his England debut in 1958 and won 106 caps for his country before retiring from international football in 1970

Charlton made his England debut in 1958 and won 106 caps for his country before retiring from international football in 1970

Charlton also featured in a combined Manchester team for Bert Trautmann's (second left) testimonial at Maine Road in 1964

Charlton also featured in a combined Manchester team for Bert Trautmann’s (second left) testimonial at Maine Road in 1964

The 'United Trinity' of Charlton (R) Denis Law (L) and George Best (C) propelled the club towards unprecedented success in the 1960s

The ‘United Trinity’ of Charlton (R) Denis Law (L) and George Best (C) propelled the club towards unprecedented success in the 1960s

Charlton, right, enjoying a game of cards with teammates Roger Hunt, left, and Gordon Banks, centre, on England duty in February 1966

Charlton, right, enjoying a game of cards with teammates Roger Hunt, left, and Gordon Banks, centre, on England duty in February 1966

Charlton featured in every game of the 1966 World Cup as England made history by defeating West Germany at Wembley

Charlton featured in every game of the 1966 World Cup as England made history by defeating West Germany at Wembley

The victory propelled Bobby and brother Jack Charlton into even greater levels of fame, with the pair pictured here surrounded by legions of adoring fans

The victory propelled Bobby and brother Jack Charlton into even greater levels of fame, with the pair pictured here surrounded by legions of adoring fans

More than half a century on, Sir Alf Ramsey's side remain the only men's England football team ever to have won a major tournament

More than half a century on, Sir Alf Ramsey’s side remain the only men’s England football team ever to have won a major tournament

Charlton was regularly recognised with individual awards, pictured here with the 1965/66 FWA Footballer of the Year Award

Charlton was regularly recognised with individual awards, pictured here with the 1965/66 FWA Footballer of the Year Award

Here enjoying a spot of downtime with his England teammates (left to right) Peter Bonetti, Martin Peters and Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore during the 1966 World Cup

Here enjoying a spot of downtime with his England teammates (left to right) Peter Bonetti, Martin Peters and Jack Charlton and Bobby Moore during the 1966 World Cup

The forward's trademark combover made him an instantly recognisable figure among football fans across the world

The forward’s trademark combover made him an instantly recognisable figure among football fans across the world

Domestically, Charlton won three first division titles and one FA Cup during his seventeen-year spell at Manchester United

Domestically, Charlton won three first division titles and one FA Cup during his seventeen-year spell at Manchester United

His success also continued on the continent as he led United to become the first English team to lift the European Cup in 1968

His success also continued on the continent as he led United to become the first English team to lift the European Cup in 1968

More than a decade after making his Old Trafford debut, Charlton remained one of the most important members of Busby's team

More than a decade after making his Old Trafford debut, Charlton remained one of the most important members of Busby’s team

Charlton's success coincided with an increased media spotlight on football, pictured here with Michael Parkinson and Best

Charlton’s success coincided with an increased media spotlight on football, pictured here with Michael Parkinson and Best

Charlton's time at United came to an end in 1973, where he made the final of his 758 appearances for the club in all competitions

Charlton’s time at United came to an end in 1973, where he made the final of his 758 appearances for the club in all competitions

Television cameras from Match of the Day captured his final appearance for the club, a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

Television cameras from Match of the Day captured his final appearance for the club, a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

After leaving United Charlton remained in football, taking over at Preston before becoming player-manager in second season in charge

After leaving United Charlton remained in football, taking over at Preston before becoming player-manager in second season in charge

Though he would retire from football in 1980, Charlton remained involved with the game, pictured here alongside Pele in 1996

Though he would retire from football in 1980, Charlton remained involved with the game, pictured here alongside Pele in 1996

A keen golfer, Charlton is pictured here with Dutch footballing legend Johan Cruyff at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

A keen golfer, Charlton is pictured here with Dutch footballing legend Johan Cruyff at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Even into his 70s Charlton would occasionally lace up his boots for charity games, here turning out for Manchester United legends in 2010

Even into his 70s Charlton would occasionally lace up his boots for charity games, here turning out for Manchester United legends in 2010

Pictured here alongside David Beckham following a presentation to honour him surpassing 100 international caps for England

Pictured here alongside David Beckham following a presentation to honour him surpassing 100 international caps for England

Charlton remained an advocate for sport in the UK, and was selected to carry the torch prior to the 2012 Olympics in London

Charlton remained an advocate for sport in the UK, and was selected to carry the torch prior to the 2012 Olympics in London

Charlton maintained a close friendship with Beckham, with Beckham describing meeting him as a child as a 'dream' moment in his life

Charlton maintained a close friendship with Beckham, with Beckham describing meeting him as a child as a ‘dream’ moment in his life

In addition to their two children, Sir Bobby and Norma Charlton also have grandchildren including one named after him

In addition to their two children, Sir Bobby and Norma Charlton also have grandchildren including one named after him

Throughout Sir Alex Ferguson's reign at United from 1986 to 2013 Charlton maintained a consistent presence at the club

Throughout Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at United from 1986 to 2013 Charlton maintained a consistent presence at the club

Sir Alex Ferguson believes he owes his storied United tenure to Charlton and said it was a pleasure to know the club legend

Sir Alex Ferguson believes he owes his storied United tenure to Charlton and said it was a pleasure to know the club legend

Charlton continued to regularly attend Old Trafford, pictured here alongside Louis Van Gaal following the Dutchman's unveiling as United's new manager in 2014

Charlton continued to regularly attend Old Trafford, pictured here alongside Louis Van Gaal following the Dutchman’s unveiling as United’s new manager in 2014

Charlton was recognised for his achievements with United in 2016 when Old Trafford's south stand was renamed the Sir Bobby Charlton stand

Charlton was recognised for his achievements with United in 2016 when Old Trafford’s south stand was renamed the Sir Bobby Charlton stand 

Charlton's record of 249 Manchester United goals in all competitions stood for more than 40 years before Wayne Rooney surpassed it in 2017

Charlton’s record of 249 Manchester United goals in all competitions stood for more than 40 years before Wayne Rooney surpassed it in 2017

Charlton appeared regularly at events commemorating England's historic 1966 victory, pictured here with FIFA President Gianni Infantino

Charlton appeared regularly at events commemorating England’s historic 1966 victory, pictured here with FIFA President Gianni Infantino

An emotional Charlton seen here receiving a standing ovation at the event commemorating the World Cup victory

An emotional Charlton seen here receiving a standing ovation at the event commemorating the World Cup victory

Here pictured alongside England manager Gareth Southgate and presented with a signed shirt for his 80th birthday

Here pictured alongside England manager Gareth Southgate and presented with a signed shirt for his 80th birthday

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