The death of English football legend Sir Bobby Charlton has stirred memories of his visits to New Zealand.
Charlton, who has died aged 86 after a struggle with dementia, came to Aotearoa with English champions Manchester United in 1967, playing games against Auckland and the New Zealand national team.
A decade later, he returned with a star-studded Bobby Charlton’s All-Stars squad to play an exhibition game against an Auckland XI at a packed Newmarket Park.
Regarded as one of the world’s best players of his generation, Charlton scored 249 goals for Manchester United and 49 for England, with whom he won the FIFA World Cup in 1966.
Announcing his death, Manchester United said:
“Sir Bobby was a hero to millions, not just in Manchester, or the United Kingdom, but wherever football is played around the world,” United said.
“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.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Charlton was a “football legend whose impact on the game spanned generations.”
Charlton’s New Zealand games
1967: Auckland 1, Manchester United 8
1967: New Zealand 0, Manchester United 11
1977: Auckland XI 1, Bobby Charlton’s All-Stars 1
Robert Charlton (October 11, 1937 — October 21, 2023)
Through the publication of obituaries, Friends of Football tries to recognise the loss of those who have significantly contributed to our game.