Sir Alex Ferguson was among the mourners at Sir Bobby Charlton’s memorial service on Monday, alongside a raft of Manchester United players both past and present.
Thousands lined the streets in Manchester on Monday as the funeral cortege passed in front of Old Trafford to allow fans to say goodbye.
Prince Willian, who is president of the Football Association, and the England manager Gareth Southgate were both in attendance in Manchester to pay tribute to one of English Football’s greatest players. Invited United stars included David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Bryan Robson and Sir Bobby’s teammate Alex Stepney.
The Club’s unpopular owners, the Glazer family, did not attend, because it is understood they did not want to become a distraction. The manager, Erik Ten Hag, was also absent due to personal commitments in his native Netherlands. Some of the current players were unable to attend after flying to join up with their national teams for upcoming international fixtures.
Charlton’s wife of 62 years, Lady Norma, was also in attendance.
The Ashington-born midfielder made 758 appearances and scored 249 goals for United in a glittering 17-year playing career. He survived the Munich air disaster in 1958 to help rebuild united, and went on to lift the European Cup in 1968, two years after playing a starring role as England won the World Cup.
The funeral cortege began at Old Trafford, where Sir Bobby is celebrated alongside Denis Law and George Best in the “United Trinity” statue, and passed through streets lined with thousands of fans before reaching Manchester Cathedral.
The ceremony, which was not filmed or broadcast, included eulogies and tributes from former club chief executive David Gill, former Manchester United Foundation chief executive John Shiels and a personal tribute from the Charlton family.
Hymns included “Abide With Me”, which is traditionally sung before the FA Cup final, “Jerusalem” and a rendition of “How Great Thou Art” by opera singer Russell Watson.
The family requested donations in lieu of flowers to a series of charities close to Sir Bobby’s heart, the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation, the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust, the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s UK.
Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Jonny Evans were among the current United players at the funeral.