GLOBALLY, tributes have been made this week to Sir Bobby Charlton following his death on Saturday, aged 86.

Probably England’s greatest footballer, the former Manchester United idol’s work with communities and charities since his playing days means his popularity, reputation and recognition transcends his heroics in sport.

He lived in Lymm for around a decade before moving to Knutsford, and he was a staunch supporter of Warrington RLFC during the Alex Murphy era in charge in the 1970s.

It is thought that Charlton’s eye was turned by the charisma of Murphy.

This Warrington Guardian picture, which featured in BBC TV’s coverage of the England versus Tonga international on Sunday afternoon, shows Charlton mixing socially with Murphy and The Wire’s scrum-half Parry Gordon and is believed to have been taken at Wilderspool Stadium.

What may seem very surprising now, Charlton did feature on the teamsheet of a Warrington RLFC match programme on one occasion.

Warrington Guardian:

He was listed for selection, alongside Murphy, Gordon, Brian Bevan and a host of other past and present Wire players and rivals, for the “grand testimonial match” in aid of Warrington’s Joe Price and Leigh’s Joe Walsh on Sunday, August 8, 1976.

But none of the trio were able to play.

England 1966 World Cup winner Charlton did, however, play in some charity football games at Wilderspool.

As well as his spectacular international career, Charlton enjoyed great success at club level with United helping them to become the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968.

Charlton’s European Cup success at United came 10 years after the Munich air disaster, which he and team manager Sir Matt Busby survived but which claimed the lives of eight of Charlton’s teammates.

He played in the World Cup final alongside his brother Jack, who died aged 85 in 2020, and won 106 caps for England, scoring 49 goals.

He made his debut for United in 1956 and went on to play 758 matches for the Red Devils, scoring 249 goals. Both were long-standing club records until they were overtaken by Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney respectively.

Charlton won three league titles and one FA Cup at Old Trafford and, after leaving United in 1973 and becoming Preston manager, he returned to Old Trafford 11 years later as a club director. He was knighted for services to football in 1994.

The Premier League club said in a statement: “Sir Bobby was a hero to millions, not just in Manchester, or the United Kingdom, but wherever football is played around the world.

“He was admired as much for his sportsmanship and integrity as he was for his outstanding qualities as a footballer; Sir Bobby will always be remembered as a giant of the game.

“Following his retirement, he went on to serve the club with distinction as a director for 39 years. His unparalleled record of achievement, character and service will be forever etched in the history of Manchester United and English football; and his legacy will live on through the life-changing work of the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation.”

Charlton was diagnosed with dementia and the announcement of his condition made public in November 2020.