UEFA President Michel Platini is to present the prestigious UEFA President's Award to Sir Bobby Charlton today in recognition of his outstanding contribution to European football. The award will be made to the Manchester United FC and England legend ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg between United and Arsenal FC at Old Trafford.
Achievements and excellence
The UEFA President's Award was introduced in 1998 to acknowledge not only the achievements of an élite group of personalities of European football in various areas, but also their professional excellence and human qualities. "When Michel Platini took office in 2007, he decided unhesitatingly to pursue the tradition, albeit with a greater focus on the true protagonists, that is the players and the invaluable contribution that they, through their careers, have made to the development and success of football in Europe and beyond," said a UEFA statement on Tuesday.
The first milestone was reached on 18 February 2008 when Mr Platini demonstrated his deep admiration for a 'great among greats', Real Madrid CF's icon, Alfredo di Stéfano, in bestowing upon him his first UEFA President's Award. Now, one of English football's supreme figures – a FIFA World Cup winner with England in 1966 and European Champion Clubs' Cup (now UEFA Champions League) winner with Manchester United in 1968 – is being honoured for his services to the game. Sir Bobby made 106 appearances for England, scoring 49 goals, and 758 appearances for United, scoring 249 goals.
Gentleman and ambassador
"It is a great privilege for me to present the UEFA President's Award to such an outstanding gentleman and ambassador for our game as Sir Bobby Charlton," said Mr Platini. "Sir Bobby represents everything that is good about the game of football – fair play, respect and true loyalty, and he is a good example for future generations, both on and off the pitch. He has achieved success at domestic level, at European level and at international level, and has been a role model for many. It therefore gives me great pleasure to be able to personally present him with the UEFA President's Award for 2008."
"I am honoured to receive this award from the UEFA President," said Sir Bobby, who was born in 1937. "Many of the most memorable games I have been involved in both as a player and a director have been in UEFA competitions. There is no doubt that the European Cup – now the UEFA Champions League – holds a special place in my heart. It is a real privilege to follow one of the greatest names ever in the game, Alfredo di Stéfano, as the latest recipient of this award."
Sir Bobby's career spanned the years 1953 to '73 as a player at Manchester United and 1974 at Preston North End FC. He was voted European Footballer of the Year in 1966, and made 47 appearances and scored 22 goals in UEFA club competitions. The presentation will take place on Wednesday 29 April from 12.45 local time in the Platinum Lounge of the North Stand at Old Trafford. Interested media should contact Phil Townsend on +44-161-868 8697.
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