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Charlton

England

Full name: Robert "Bobby" Charlton
Date of birth: 11/10/1937
Position: Midfielder
International caps: 106
International goals: 49
World Cups: 1962 - Quarter Finals
1966 - Champions
1970 - Quarter Finals
European Footballer of the Year: 1966
Clubs: Manchester United
Preston North End
1954-1973
1973-1975

Bobby Charlton is one of England's most famous footballers. He had two tremendous feet, the grace of a gazelle and a ferociously powerful shot, and he could also play in numerous positions: out-and-out midfielder, inside forward, winger, or centre forward.

In the late fifties, Charlton was part of the "Busby Babes" - the Manchester United team led by Sir Matt Busby, who finally dragged English football onto the European stage. On 3 February 1958, Charlton survived the Munich air crash which claimed the lives of seven of his Manchester United team mates. That season, a makeshift team, made up from hasty new signings and the few survivors, such as Charlton, made it to the FA Cup final.

Charlton in action

Charlton played his first game for England in 1958, but after a lacklustre porformace in a 5-0 defeat away to Yugoslavia in only his third match, he was left on the bench for the entire 1958 World Cup in Sweden. However, by the next year he was back in contention, and with hat-tricks against both USA and Mexico (8-1 and 8-0 victories respectively), he was in the squad for the 1962 World Cup in Chile. England struggled through to the group stage with a win, a draw and a defeat. Although they had beaten Argentina, with Charlton scoring a goal (his 25th in 38 caps) and setting up another in the 3-1 win, they didn't look likely to beat Brazil in the quarter final. Even with the best outside left in the tournament, England lost 3-1, succumbing to the awesome Garrincha - scorer of two goals.

By the time of the 1966 World Cup in England, Charlton had moved into midfield, where he didn't quite look the part of playmaker, but could unleash his fearsome shots. He scored one of these patented goals against Mexico in the second group game - a match in which he had a leading role for the first time. However, his best game in the tournament was against Portugal in the semi final, scoring both of England's goals in a 2-1 victory. In the final against West Germany, Charlton was man marked by Beckenbauer, effectively cancelling them both out for the entire match. This left the rest of the England team free to complete the 4-2 win after extra time.

Bobby Charlton, and brother Jacky, in action

Two years after lifting the World Cup, and with Manchester United having won the 1963 FA Cup and league titles in 1965 and 1967, Charlton was back at Wembley, in the final of the European Cup. Charlton was captain of a team including talent such as Denis Law and George Best, and they devastated the mighty Benfica, with Charlton scoring twice in the 4-1 victory.

Weeks later, Charlton was part of the England team who came third in the 1968 European Championships in Italy. He was then part of the squad for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico - a team regarded by many as superior to that of four years earlier. However, they mainly underperformed in the Mexican heat; almost getting it together in the second group game against Brazil, but ultimately losing 1-0. The third game was Bobby Charlton's 105 international cap - a world record at the time - but England again played poorly, only beating Czechoslovakia 1-0. In the quarter finals, England was beaten 3-2 by the old enemy, West Germany, after leading 2-0. Charlton was substituted in the 69th minute, just after Beckenbauer scored Germany's first goal, and would never play for England again.

In 1973, Charlton left Manchester United to become player-manager at Preston North End, only to decide it wasn't for him a year later. Since then Bobby has been involved as a director at Wigan Athletic and, more recently, back at Man United.

Charlton was one of very few Englishmen to play in all 14 of their World Cup matches from 1962-1970. He still holds the record for the most goals for England, with 49, and he captained his country twice. Charlton also scored 249 goals in 759 club league appearances, in a career that spanned 17 years at Old Trafford. Sir Matt Busby said of Charlton: "He was as near perfection - as man and player - as it is possible to be." This was recognised in 1994, when Bobby Charlton was knighted.