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1966: My World Cup Story By Sir Bobby Charlton

Release date: 13th June, 2016
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press

List Price: £20.00
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We’ve grown used to the modern-day scramble for instant satisfaction, a tiresome human characteristic that has succeeded in rewarding the average and over-promoting what was once perceived as little more than basic competence.

Yet this change in outlook has proved a boon to our sporting heroes who have discovered that the route to fame and fortune has shortened markedly in the space of a handful of decades. Score 20 goals in the Premier League nowadays and you’re a demigod, an ‘all-time great’ to be lauded, admired and rewarded with a level of riches that would make Croesus blush.

Given that, on average, England’s top flight teams comprise, on average, fewer than four Englishmen, perhaps this is not surprising, although it could be argued that when that figure averaged more than nine, it was much harder to stand out.

Which brings us to Sir Bobby Charlton, a man who ranks amongst England’s greatest footballers, in addition to being a true gentleman.

Gentlemen who avoid controversy, remain married to the same person for years without a hint of scandal, whose inclusive nature means they always say the right thing, who prefer to help rather than criticise, are rarely considered great subject matter for a 300-odd page book, but not Sir Bobby Charlton.

Charlton deliberately split his autobiography into two volumes, published in 2007 and 2008 respectively, covering his years at Manchester United and playing for England and this tale of life from the inside during the run-up to, during and following the nation’s greatest sporting triumph draws heavily upon the latter (although any possible duplication is scrupulously signalled in advance).

Unlike My England Years, however, Charlton has a freer rein here, developing more fully the characters with whom he worked during that glorious summer. From Sir Alf Ramsey, invariably portrayed as a cold, aloof man (Sir Bobby knew better), to the often strained relationship with his brother, Jack, a detail which saddened the nation.

Is it really fifty years since England tasted glory? Sir Bobby reminds us that, unfortunately, it is, but there’s no gloating, no self-proclamation of greatness here, because gentlemen don’t do that. He simply tells the story as it was, with relish and fondness – as you would expect of a man many consider England’s greatest-ever footballer.


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