Prince William and Sir Alex Ferguson at Sir Bobby Charlton’s funeral

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The funeral procession arrived outside Old Trafford to huge crowds earlier
By Lauren Hirst & Rachael Lazaro
BBC News

Family, fans and footballers have bid a final farewell to Manchester United and England legend Sir Bobby Charlton.

About 1,000 mourners paid their respects to one of the game’s all-time greats at his funeral earlier.

Crowds lined the streets as the cortège arrived at Old Trafford to rounds of applause before it travelled on to Manchester Cathedral.

The Red Devils icon, who made 758 appearances for the club, died at the age of 86 on 21 October.

The Charlton family and friends were joined by leading figures from across football for the funeral service.

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, and ex-players Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Roy Keane, Steve Bruce, Paddy Crerand and Andy Cole were among those paying their respects.

Current players including Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw were also in attendance along with former manager and player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and England manager Gareth Southgate.

The Prince of Wales, who is president of the Football Association, also travelled to Manchester for the private service at the cathedral in the centre of the city.

Sir Alex Ferguson was among the mourners at Manchester Cathedral
Prince William arrived for the service to bid a final farewell to the football legend
Nicky Butt and Roy Keane were also in attendance to pay their respects

The funeral cortège drove past the stadium’s East Stand and the United Trinity statue, which features Charlton, George Best and Denis Law.

Representatives of the club’s under-18 and under-21 teams formed a guard of honour flanking the statue.

Black and white photographs depicting Charlton’s career as a player and then a director at the club were on display outside the football ground.

Fans pay tribute to footballing legend Sir Bobby Charlton ahead of his funeral

The funeral procession then travelled to the city centre, arriving at the cathedral shortly after 14:00 GMT where mourners had gathered inside.

Former Manchester United chief executive David Gill, who read the first eulogy, described Charlton as a “legend, an icon and a very dear and loyal, much-loved colleague and friend”.

“Football is a tribal sport but Bobby was universally admired,” Gill said.

“Bobby’s name is synonymous with all that is good about the English game.”

His grandson William Balderston read the last of the tributes and recalled a “creative, fantastic storyteller” who would make up what he called “jelly and custard” tales to entertain and enthral his younger relatives.

He spoke of his “depth of gratitude” to Charlton and his wife Norma, adding: “They have shown me what devotion really is.”

The ceremony was led by Canon Nigel Ashworth and hymns included Abide with Me by Henry Francis Lyte, Brother James’ Air by James Leith Macbeth Bain, and Jerusalem by William Blake.

There was also a musical tribute from opera singer Russell Watson with How Great Thou Art.

Former Manchester United player Alex Stepney said Charlton was a “humble guy”
Fans applauded as the cortège passed by Old Trafford
The private service was held at Manchester Cathedral
The coffin is carried by pallbearers into the cathedral ahead of the service

Widely hailed as one of England’s greatest ever players, Charlton was a key figure in the Three Lions’ 1966 World Cup victory.

During a 17-year first team career with United he won three league titles, a European Cup and an FA Cup.

From 1958 to 1970 he played for England, and achieved 106 caps, a record-breaking 49 goals, the famous 1966 World Cup win, and a Ballon d’Or.

Sir Bobby was instrumental in English football’s greatest achievements

Speaking ahead of the service, former United player, Bryan Robson, said Charlton was the first to welcome him to the club when he signed for a record fee in 1981.

“Sir Bob was the first one after I signed the contract to come and say it’s a great club, enjoy yourself here,” he said.

He added: “It’s a sad day for the family, for Manchester United but also for football because he was a fantastic player.

“But he wasn’t just a great player, he was a great person, he had time for everyone and wanted to help everyone.”

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Fans lined the route from Old Trafford to Manchester Cathedral

Charlton’s teammate Alex Stepney described him as a “great family man”, adding his success “never went to his head”.

“My memory was meeting him for the first time when I got signed [at United],” Stepney told the BBC.

“I knew straight away what a great guy he was, a humble guy.

“Nothing was over his head or anything like that, it was all about playing for Manchester United.

“Even on international duty it was about winning and that was what Bobby Charlton was all about.”

Sir Bobby Charlton: The First Gentleman of Football

Watch now on BBC iPlayer

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