KNUTSFORD FC chairman Jimmy Evans has paid tribute to football legend Sir Bobby Charlton, who died on Saturday aged 86.

The former Manchester United and England striker, who lived in Ollerton, Knutsford, for more than 40 years, was a vice-president of the Cheshire Football League club.

He used to play golf at The Mere and Charlton's links to the town continue through the various charities he supported, including the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation which he founded and is based at Booths Park, Chelford Road.

"The club was saddened to hear of the passing of legend Bobby Charlton," said Evans.

"Bobby was a vice president and friend of the club, and played in several veteran games between Man Utd X1 and Knutsford Veterans in the early 1980s.

"He was also often seen in Knutsford buying fish and chips!

"Bobby was a fantastic man, a true gentleman and a supremely fluent footballer."

Charlton moved to Knutsford with his wife, Lady Norma, and daughters Suzanne and Andrea, in the early 1970s but had been based in Cheshire since 1953, previously residing in Lymm, Warrington.

He was a key member of England’s victorious 1966 World Cup team and also enjoyed great success at club level with United, who became the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968.

Charlton’s European Cup success at United came 10 years after the Munich air disaster, which he and team manager Sir Matt Busby survived but which claimed the lives of eight of Charlton’s team-mates.

Born in Ashington on October 11 1937, Charlton played in the World Cup final alongside his brother Jack, who died aged 85 in 2020, and won 106 caps for England, scoring 49 goals.

He made his debut for United in 1956 and went on to play 758 matches for the Red Devils, scoring 249 goals. Both were long-standing club records until they were overtaken by Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney respectively.

Charlton won three league titles and one FA Cup at Old Trafford and, after leaving United in 1973 and becoming Preston manager, he returned to Old Trafford 11 years later as a club director. He was knighted for services to football in 1994.

The Premier League club said in a statement: “Sir Bobby was a hero to millions, not just in Manchester, or the United Kingdom, but wherever football is played around the world.

“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.

“Following his retirement, he went on to serve the club with distinction as a director for 39 years. His unparalleled record of achievement, character and service will be forever etched in the history of Manchester United and English football; and his legacy will live on through the life-changing work of the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation.

“The club’s heartfelt sympathies are with his wife Lady Norma, his daughters and grandchildren, and all who loved him.”

Charlton was diagnosed with dementia and the announcement of his condition made public in November 2020.