Because Sir Bobby Charlton retired in 1973, generations are alive today who weren’t there when he was in his prime.
The England great played 758 games for Manchester United and such was his legend that they had to lock the games an hour before his penultimate match for them. Thousands who wanted a glimpse couldn’t get in Stamford Bridge as so many fans were there.
Across a stellar career he won the 1966 World Cup with England, the European Cup in 1967-68, and three First Division titles. Not to mention a Ballon d’Or, for which he was also a runner-up twice.
And while it’s hard to fully appreciate the player he was without having seen him in the flesh, a dive into the YouTube clips shows his majesty.
Charlton was a talismanic midfielder who knew exactly where the net was. He scored 49 goals for England – a then-record – and 249 for United.
Sir Bobby Charlton was one of the greats of English football – and he scored all types of goals
With Manchester United, he lifted the European Cup and became the Ballon d’Or winner
In the 1966 World Cup semi-final against Portugal, he popped up with two critical strikes from the edge of the area. Right place, right time, all planned.
In the first half he anticipated a rebound off the goalkeeper to slot in, and after 80 minutes he doubled the lead as he ran onto Geoff Hurst’s lay-up. Both first-time shots.
United rebuilt their team around him after the Munich Air Disaster of 1958, and what a player he was for them. You could always count on him in a big moment.
Take the 1968 European Cup final, for example. A showdown with the mighty Benfica, two-time winners that decade, spearheaded by Eusebio.
Not so great with Sir Bobby around. Early in the second half, Charlton flicked on a header from around ten yards out and it went flying into the opposite corner. 1-0.
Then, in extra time, he came up with the goods once again, this time meeting a cross at the near post to smash it home.
The thing with Charlton is that he could score every type of goal, and one of his staples was a blistering long-range strike. Take a trip down through the archives and you’ll see just how many times that he would drive through midfield, leaving opponents in his wake, and blast in a shot from range.
Even on the international stage, he didn’t shy away from the spectacular. His first England goal was a volley – somehow he found space in the area and blasted home at Hampden Park in a 4-0 rout.
And then there was that goal against Mexico. The stunning one. It came in the group stages after an opening draw, with England desperate to clock a victory.
In the first half, Charlton charged through midfield, feinted to the right, and blasted a shot from 25 yards out into the far top corner.
Whether it was timing a run perfectly to meet a square ball, getting on the end of a cross with a header, or sending fans into a frenzy with a blockbuster goal, Charlton could do it all.