Alex Ferguson has described Bobby Charlton as a “tower of strength” for him in a heartfelt tribute to the Manchester United and England great.
Charlton, one of the finest players the English game has ever produced, died last weekend at the age of 86.
After an illustrious career in which he won the World Cup with England and the European Cup with United, Charlton served the club as a director and ambassador.
He remained a prominent figure at Old Trafford throughout Ferguson’s trophy-filled 26-year reign as manager, which began in 1986.
In a eulogy in the matchday programme for Sunday’s derby fixture against Manchester City, Ferguson reflected on his appointment and the “personal connection” he had with Charlton.
He wrote: “The directors came to meet me in Glasgow and asked what my vision was for the job. I said I would take the same approach I had at Aberdeen, by looking to build up the whole club, not just the team, and that I would do that by developing young players.
“As I was explaining this, I saw Bobby nudge one of the other directors and he said, ‘that’s what we want’. He’d made his mind up. From that moment on he was a tower of strength for me.”
Ferguson, the last United manager to win the Premier League, in 2013, described Charlton as “the greatest English player of all time”.
“People loved him because of all those thunderbolt goals, but it was more than that,” he said. “My dad used to say that humility in success is a sign of greatness, and that was Bobby.
“He never used to boast about his own achievements — it was always about the team and the club.”
Charlton’s death came soon after that of Ferguson’s wife, Cathy.
He added: “I am so sorry for Lady Norma (Charlton), who was always by Bobby’s side, especially as his health declined, and my thoughts have been with the whole family these past few days.
“Unfortunately, I have also suffered the painful loss of my beloved wife, Cathy, this month, and I want to thank the club, the fans, and everyone who has sent me their condolences.”