Gary Lineker leads tributes to ‘England’s greatest ever’ Sir Bobby Charlton

Gary Lineker led tributes to Sir Bobby Charlton following his death as he said the former Manchester United and England midfielder achieved “footballing immortality”.

Charlton’s family announced in a statement on Saturday that England’s 1966 World Cup winner had died aged 86.

Tributes poured in for Charlton, with ex-England striker and Match of the Day presenter Lineker hailing his lasting impact on the sport.

“Deeply saddened to hear that Sir Bobby Charlton has died. A truly wonderful footballer and genuinely lovely man. A World Cup winner, @ManUtd great and, for me, England’s greatest ever player. He may longer be with us but he’ll have footballing immortality. RIP Sir Bobby,” he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Charlton’s death means only Sir Geoff Hurst remains on the only man who started the 1966 World Cup final win over West Germany who is still alive.

Hurst, who hit a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory, also paid respect to his former team-mate, writing: “Very sad news today. 1 of the true Greats Sir Bobby Charlton has passed away.

“We will never forget him & nor will all of football. A great colleague & friend he will be sorely missed by all of the country beyond sport alone. Condolences to his family & friends from Geoff and Judith.”

Charlton had previously held the record as all-time top goalscorer for both England and Manchester United, where he also won the European Cup in 1968.

A number of former United players took to X to offer their condolences, with ex-captain Gary Neville writing: “So sorry to hear the news of Sir Bobby Charlton.

“The Greatest English Football player and Manchester United’s greatest ambassador. A champion on and off the pitch and a Busby Babe that paved the way for all to come at United. Rest In Peace Sir Bobby.”

Rio Ferdinand, a former captain of both England and the Red Devils, posted a lengthy tribute to Charlton – dubbing him “Mr Manchester United”.

“Icon, Legend, Great! these words are thrown around by all of us to many who 100% don’t deserve them, especially when you compare them to man of Sir Bobby’s calibre. What a true gentleman of not many words, but when he spoke you stood still, stopped what you were doing and listened.

“A lot of the history was living and breathing through him and he was a constant at the club while I was there – travelling with us all over the world.

“Win, lose or draw he would be in the changing room wishing us well. The words he shared with me at the bottom of those stairs in Moscow, before I went up to lift the CL trophy will stay with me forever.

“What it meant to lift that trophy for Man Utd, what it meant for the fans, what it meant for us as a team and what it now meant for myself doing it as captain. It was a privilege for me to even get that moment with him at that specific time. Thank you Sir Bobby. Mr Manchester United. RIP.”