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By Mick the Ram
An inquest has heard that Sir Bobby Charlton died after suffering an accidental fall at the nursing home where he had been living and receiving respite care.
The Manchester United and England legend died on 21 October in the Macclesfield General Hospital, at the age of 86.
Cheshire Coroner’s Court heard that Sir Bobby had been residing at “The Willows” in Knutsford, a centre which cares for patients with dementia, since July 2023. A verdict of accidental death was recorded by Senior coroner Jacqueline Devonish, with the actual cause given as trauma in the lungs, a fall and dementia.
Sir Bobby’s family have announced that the man, who was hailed as one of England’s greatest ever players and a key figure in their famous 1966 World Cup victory, will be honoured with a memorial service to celebrate his life on 13 November, at Manchester Cathedral.
No immediate concerns
The hearing was told that a frail Sir Bobby had lost his balance as he stood up from his chair, striking a window sill and “possibly a radiator”. He initially seemed to be unhurt, with staff carrying out a full-body check immediately afterwards, and noting no visible injuries.
However, a short time later they became concerned about a swelling on his back and paramedics were called. He was transferred to a local hospital before being moved on to Macclesfield General Hospital.
End of life care
The inquest was made aware that he was given a chest X-ray and CT scan, which revealed he had fractured his ribs and was likely to develop pneumonia. It was then decided by the doctors that Sir Bobby should be put on end-of-life care, and sadly he passed away five days later.
It was also revealed that the footballing hero had also contracted Covid in September of this year. The Care home manager Tamara Simmons, confirmed that Sir Bobby “needed support with all aspects of daily living”.
It was back in November 2020, that it was announced that the great man had been diagnosed with dementia. Tragically, he became the fifth player out of the starting eleven who defeated West Germany 4-2 on that memorable day back in 1966, to be diagnosed with the awful debilitating condition.
The other four – Ray Wilson, Martin Peters, Nobby Stiles and Bobby’s brother Jack – also succumbed to the terrible illness.
Bobby’s death means that Sir Geoff Hurst, now 81-years-old and who scored a hat-trick in the victory, is the only surviving member of that triumphant team.
Munich disaster never left him
Sir Bobby was born in Ashington, Northumberland on 11 October, 1937, and joined Manchester United as a schoolboy in 1953. He turned professional the following year before making his first-team debut aged just 18.
Then tragically came the Munich air crash in February 1958, which claimed the lives of 23 people, including eight of his “Busby Babes” United team-mates.
Ten years later he had become focal point of another great Manchester United team and scored twice as they lifted their first ever European Cup, beating Benfica of Portugal in a wonderful attacking display at Wembley Stadium. But that dreadful crash would have a profound effect on him for the rest of his days.
Breaking all records
During a 17-year first-team career with United he won three league titles, a European Cup and an FA Cup. He broke the club’s scoring and appearance records, finishing with 249 goals in 758 games, before bowing out in May 1973.
His records would eventually go to Ryan Giggs who finished on 963 games and Wayne Rooney who scored 253 goals, but his legendary status was already set in stone. United renamed Old Trafford’s South Stand the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand in 2016, in his honour.
For England he won 106 caps for England and scored 49 international goals, both also records for his country at the time. He would go onto became an ambassador for club and country and his name is known all around the world.
A true legend
A statue was erected at Old Trafford alongside teammates George Best and Denis Law and the area in front of it has been flooded with memorabilia and flowers.
His memorial service will include a procession that will pass by the ground, giving fans the opportunity to say a final farewell to probably the club’s greatest ever player and a true legend of the game.