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Football world mourns Sir Bobby Charlton

Former FIFA World Cup and European Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton has died at the age of 86.

Sir Bobby Charlton, the legendary Manchester United and England midfielder, has died aged 86.

Charlton was a member of United's first European Cup-winning team in 1968, scoring twice in the 4-1 Wembley final victory over Benfica as Sir Matt Busby's side became the first English winners of the competition.

Two years earlier, the goalscoring midfielder had played a pivotal role in England's 1966 FIFA World Cup triumph on home soil, scoring three times – including both goals in the semi-final victory over Portugal.

Charlton retired from the England team in 1970 as its then 49-goal record scorer – a total achieved from 106 appearances.

Overall he spent 17 years as a United first-team player, accumulating 758 appearances and 249 goals and winning three league titles and one FA Cup as well as the European Cup. That 1968 triumph had deep poignancy for Charlton, coming ten years after he – as a 20-year old member of the 'Busby Babes' team – survived the Munich air disaster, which claimed the lives of eight team-mates along with 15 other passengers.

1968 final highlights: Benfica 1-4 Man United

In a statement, United said: "Manchester United are in mourning following the passing of Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of our club.

"Sir Bobby was a hero to millions, not just in Manchester, or the United Kingdom, but wherever football is played around the world. He was admired as much for his sportsmanship and integrity as he was for his outstanding qualities as a footballer; Sir Bobby will always be remembered as a giant of the game."

Charlton made his final appearance for United in 1973, leaving Old Trafford at the same time as his brother and fellow World Cup winner Jack ended his long association with rivals Leeds United. He then had a spell as manager of Preston North End, where he made 38 appearances. Since 1984, he had served United as a director.

In their statement, United added: "His unparalleled record of achievement, character and service will be forever etched in the history of Manchester United and English football; and his legacy will live on through the life-changing work of the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation."

Among the many other tributes, England manager Gareth Southgate said: "One of our most iconic players, Sir Bobby Charlton's impact on our only World Cup triumph is there for all to see.

"The privilege of meeting him on several occasions allowed me to understand his personal pride and emotion in having represented England and simply confirmed in my mind his standing as one of the Gentlemen of the game."

A full tribute to Sir Bobby will be paid at Wembley Stadium when England play Malta on Friday 17 November.