Sir Bobby Charlton: Sammy McIlroy pays tribute to former Manchester United teammate

Charlton won 106 caps for England and scored 49 international goals Credit: PA Images

Sammy McIlroy has described his former Manchester United teammate Sir Bobby Charlton as "one of the greatest of all time".

United legend Charlton, who was a key figure in England's 1966 World Cup victory, has died at the age of 86.

McIlroy, 69, paid a warm tribute to the former footballer, who was in the United team when he made his debut for the Old Trafford club in 1971.

He said: "It's been unbelievable. I have been down at Old Trafford ever since the news and I am just looking around now seeing the souvenirs, the flowers, people's sad faces.

"Everyone had a great word to say about Sir Bobby. He was a true gentleman.

"When I first signed for the club as a 15-year-old, Bobby and Sir Matt came to see me. I was on the pitch ready to train.

"Sir Bobby came to me and said 'you've got an unbelievable opportunity here at one of the greatest clubs in the world. Make sure you give it 100%'"

Tributes have been left outside Old Trafford for United legend Sir Bobby Charlton. Credit: PA Images

Sammy continued to say: "He was a fantastic man. I have never ever heard a bad word about him. When he was on the training field he gave it 100%, when he played he gave it a 100%.

"He just glided by people and scored unbelievable goals. He was just a world-class player.

"I was absolutely star-struck when I first met him and for Bobby to come down and say this is a great opportunity for you, I was dumb struck.

"Those words stayed with me for a long, long time and even over the years when he became an ambassador at the club, record appearances at the club, record goal scorer up until recent years, what a player.

"To play with my hero from back home, George Best and to play with Sir Bobby was a dream come true. Sir Bobby was the captain that day when I made my debut.

"I will remember him as a true gentleman, as a world class player and a great person to be around as simple as that."

An online book of condolence has received more than 30,000 messages, as Reds continue to honour Sir Bobby Charlton.

Tributes to Charlton will take place before Tuesday's Champions League fixture against Copenhagen, in the form of a minute's silence, a wreath being placed on Charlton's seat in the directors' box and players and club staff wearing black armbands.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...