Sir Bobby Charlton: Eulogies reveal family man who told 'jelly and custard tales'

  • ITV Granada Reports Sports Correspondent Chris Hall took a look back at the day Sir Bobby was honoured by the world said goodbye to the footballing legend

Eulogies read at Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton's funeral have called the footballer a "national treasure" whose family came first.

Manchester and the wider footballing world came together to say their final goodbyes to Sir Bobby who died in October at the age of 86.

Thousands gathered outside of Old Trafford to watch as his funeral cortege passed the stadium, while United stars past and present, other football dignitaries and even the Prince of Wales attended his funeral at Manchester Cathedral.

Sir Bobby will be remembered as one of the greatest English footballers of all time, a World Cup winner in 1966 with his country and a winner of three league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup with Manchester United in 1968.

Sir Bobby Charlton and his brother Jack Charlton. Credit: PA Images

However, the eulogies read at his funeral service highlighted how family came first.

His grandson William Balderston read the last of the tributes and recalled a “creative, fantastic storyteller” who would make up what he called “jelly and custard” tales to entertain and enthral his younger relatives.

He spoke of his “depth of gratitude” to Charlton and his wife Norma, adding: “They have shown me what devotion really is.”

Tributes to Sir Bobby Charlton have been made from across the sporting world. Credit: PA Images

Former Manchester United Chief Executive David Gill, who read the first eulogy, described Charlton as a “legend, an icon and a very dear and loyal, much-loved colleague and friend”.

But, he added, "at the heart of everything Bobby was a family man".

“Family was the most important thing to him," he said.

"And you could see what a wonderful marriage he had with Norma of over 60 years and how proud he was of his daughters Suzanne and Andrea, son-in-law Andrew and grandchildren Robert, William and Emma when they came at Christmas and other occasions to Old Trafford, where the South Stand will forever bear his name in recognition of his importance to the history and heritage of the club.

“A revered son of the North East, an icon of Manchester for all he did for United, a national treasure as the epitome of the very best of English sport and a man loved and admired across the globe – the world football family has lost a legend of the game.”

A third eulogy, from Manchester United Foundation Chief Executive John Shiels, also spoke of Sir Bobby's love for his family.

Sharing the "lessons" the footballing legend had taught him, he said: "Family always comes first.

"His love for Lady Norma and his family was tangible, this is something that I could speak at length on."

Many hundreds also gathered outside the Cathedral, with more than 1,000 guests coming to pay their respects.

There were team-mates from Charlton footballing days including Alex Stepney, Paddy Crerand and Brian Kidd.

From the current squad, Harry Maguire, Tom Heaton, Jonny Evans and Luke Shaw were in attendance, while from beyond the club, the Prince of Wales – the president of the Football Association – led a delegation from the governing body which also included current England manager Gareth Southgate.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin’s presence marked the international impact Charlton had, even in the days before blanket television coverage of football existed.

Continuing his eulogy Gill said: “Football is a tribal sport but Bobby was universally admired."

Gill reeled off some of Charlton’s astonishing career statistics – 758 United appearances, 249 goals, 106 England caps, 49 goals – but added: “The stat I really like is only two bookings and never being sent off.

“Now I know Bobby didn’t have to endure VAR, a curse of the modern game – I’m not sure he was a big fan – but to me that says it all," he added.

“You can be a superstar and a fierce competitor, whilst still being a gentleman. Bobby’s name is synonymous with all that is good about the English game."

He continued: “On away trips, there was not an airport concourse in the world that Bobby could walk through without people wanting an autograph or selfie,” Gill recalled.

“I would head on through to get the bags and Bobby would join me 10 or 15 minutes later having satisfied everyone.”

The funeral service began with the famous FA Cup anthem, Abide With Me, and also featured a rendition of ‘How Great Thou Art’ by opera singer Russell Watson.

Gill hailed the “remarkable resolve” of Charlton in returning to action after the 1958 Munich air disaster, which claimed the lives of eight of his United team-mates.

Gill added: “Reflecting now, I would have liked to have talked to him more about Munich and how he coped in the aftermath, but Bobby dealt with it in his own way – private, stoical and dignified.”