Nobody embodies the values of Manchester United better than Sir Bobby Charlton. Having survived the trauma of Munich aged just 20, he played as if every game was for his fallen colleagues, recovering from his injuries to reach the pinnacle for both club and country. In a 17-year playing career with United, he played a record 754 games, scoring 247 goals. It is unlikely his deeds will ever be matched. Although highly coveted by clubs across the country, the young Charlton, nephew of the great Newcastle striker Jackie Milburn, turned professional with United in October 1954, winning the FA Youth Cup in 1954, 1955 and 1956.
His league debut came on 6 October 1956 against Charlton at Old Trafford and the youngster made an immediate impact, scoring twice despite carrying an injury. “Mr Busby asked me if I was ok,” recalled Sir Bobby. “I actually had a sprained ankle, but I wasn’t going to admit to it and I crossed my fingers and said ‘yes’.”
Despite his dramatic bow, Charlton didn’t command a relatively regular place until the latter stages of the 1956/57 season, notching 10 goals as the Busby Babes won a first title. Competition for a first-team spot was intense, but a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers in January 1958 certainly helped