‘Forever in my thoughts, forever in my heart’: Sir Bobby Charlton’s widow leaves emotional tribute for the 1966 World Cup hero as he is laid to rest
Sir Bobby Charlton’s widow has left an emotional tribute to her ‘dearest’ husband as the 1996 World Cup hero was laid to rest.
Lady Norma Charlton left a short five-line note to the love of her life on a piece of card placed alongside flowers.
It read: ‘Dearest Bobby, Forever in my thoughts, Forever in my heart, All my love as always, Norma.’
The 83-year-old followed her beloved husband’s coffin into his funeral service yesterday at Manchester Cathedral.
The funeral cortege had passed Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium in front of thousands of fans as they paid their respects and said their last goodbyes to the England legend.
Lady Norma Charlton left a short five-line note to the love of her life on a piece of card placed alongside flowers
The 83-year-old followed her beloved husband’s coffin into his funeral service yesterday at Manchester Cathedral
Lady Norma and Sir Bobby attend the Laureus Sport for Good Night 2014 at Bayerischer Hof on September 19, 2014 in Munich
Sir Bobby died in Macclesfield Hospital on October 21, aged 86, after a fall at The Willows in Knutsford, a nursing home caring for patients with dementia.
READ MORE: Sir Bobby Charlton’s grandson’s poignant tribute to the England legend at cathedral ceremony attended by Sir Alex Ferguson, Prince William and Gareth Southgate
Sporting greats and Manchester United legends from yesteryear – including former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, captains Roy Keane, Bryan Robson, and Steve Bruce, and Sir Bobby’s teammates Alex Stepney and Brian Kidd – attended the emotional service today.
The Manchester United midfielder’s grandson William Balderston was among those to give a heartfelt tribute in which he said he had ‘been inspired not so much by his greatness as by his goodness’.
Sir Bobby and Lady Norma met by chance at a Manchester ice rink in 1959 – a year after he had survived the Munich Air Disaster in which eight of his teammates were killed.
The couple wed two years later and raised two daughters Suzanne and Andrea.
They stuck by each other through thick and thin and cheered him on at Wembley as England lifted the World Cup in 1966.
Lady Norma follows her husband Sir Bobby’s coffin into Manchester Cathedral for his funeral service yesterday
Sir Bobby and Lady Norma met by chance at an ice rink in Manchester in 1959 – a year after he survived the Munich Air Disaster in which eight of his teammates were killed
The couple wed in 1961 and would stuck by each other’s sides through thick and thin. They raised two daughters together
READ MORE – Sir Alex Ferguson’s wife Cathy dies aged 84: Heartbroken Man Utd legend loses his ‘tower of strength’
But their relationship would cause a 42-year rift between Sir Bobby and his brother Jack amid claims of tension between the sibling’s mother, Cissie, and Norma.
Years of growing antipathy exploded in 1996 when Jack criticised Bobby for failing to visit Cissie in her final years and suggesting that had been influenced by Norma.
A decade later, Bobby described Jack’s claims about his wife as ‘absolutely disgraceful’.
Writing in a book in 2007, he confessed he and his brother had ‘never been further apart than we are now’, adding: ‘I just don’t want to know him.’
Sir Bobby gave an emotional interview to The Times where he opened up about the feud.
Lady Norma appeared emotional as she followed her husband’s casket into Manchester Cathedral yesterday
The funeral cortege of Bobby Charlton passes by Old Trafford
Up to 1,000 guests, including some of the biggest names in British football, attended his funeral yesterday
Charlton (in a Munich hospital) survived the Munich Air Disaster in 1958 when he was just 20 years old
Sir Bobby with his wife Norma and two daughters Suzanne and Andrea in their garden at home in the 1960s
Their relationship caused a rift between Sir Bobby and his brother Jack (left) which seemed irreparably broken but they were very publicly reconciled when Sir Bobby was presented with a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008
He said Norma tried to make peace with her mother-in-law but in vain, forcing him to choose. ‘We stopped seeing each other. At the end of the day you have to have your priorities and mine was my wife.
‘I suppose if I’d made a major effort, maybe I could have changed things. But it wouldn’t have changed anything at all. It’s not abnormal. People say, ‘Well, that happened to me’.’
The sibling’s dislike for one another appeared to show no sign of abating, with Sir Bobby later saying his brother had made a ‘big mistake’.
Their relationship seemed irreparably broken but they were very publicly reconciled a year later when Bobby was presented with a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award. Jack agreed to present the trophy and told his sibling: ‘Bobby Charlton is the greatest player I’ve ever seen. And he’s my brother.’
The pair embraced – just as they had on the turf at Wembley 42 years earlier.
Jack died in in July 2020. The 2021 documentary, ‘Finding Jack Charlton’, was filmed during the last 18 months of his life and gave an insight into the effect dementia had.
Pallbearers carry the coffin of England World Cup winner and Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton out of Manchester Cathedral
Sir Alex Ferguson was accompanied by long-serving Old Trafford receptionist Kath Phipps (pictured), now in her 80s, and who worked for the club for 54 years, joining in 1968 when Sir Matt Busby was manager and Sir Bobby a player
A huge crowd gathered outside Old Trafford to watch the funeral procession
Former Manchester United player Alex Stepney, who used to play with Sir Bobby, arrives at Manchester Cathedral
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