The Timeline: Sir Bobby Charlton

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The Independent Football

1937: Football in the blood

Born in the coal-mining town of Ashington in Northumberland. Charlton grew up in a colliery terrace. Football ran in the blood; as well as his brother Jack, Bobby's mother was from the famous Milburn family, her cousin Jackie Milburn was a Newcastle United great in the 1940s and 1950s.

1950s: Early success

Bobby signed for Manchester United on New Year's Day 1953, aged 15. Won three consecutive Youth Cups, in a team that included the rest of the Busby Babes, including Albert Scanlon and the great Duncan Edwards. Made his debut in October 1956 as United won the league.

Late 1950s: Munich and beyond

United's defining tragedy happened in Munich on 6 February 1958. The story of the crash that killed 21, including eight players, is told in a new BBC film starring Skins' Jack O'Connell as the midfielder. Manager Matt Busby rebuilt the team around survivor Charlton, and they reached the FA Cup final. The month before the final, aged 20, he made his England debut against Scotland and scored.

1966: On top of the world

The final frontier in United's rebuilding was Europe; and Charlton scored a brilliant goal in the 5-1 quarter-final second-leg win at Benfica. They lost in the semi-finals, but Charlton went on to have a glorious World Cup that summer: scoring both goals in England's semi-final win over Portugal, and winning player of the tournament and the Ballon d'Or, sealing his place in the football pantheon.

1968: Triumph in Europe

Busby and Charlton's journey was completed with triumph in the 1968 European Cup. Charlton captained the side and scored the first and final goals of a 4-1 win over Benfica at Wembley. Ten years on from Munich, the promise of the Busby Babes was fulfilled. United was the first English team to win the European Cup.

1970s: End of a glorious career

Charlton went to the 1970 World Cup in Mexico but England could not retain their crown. He played his last United game in 1973, setting a record of 758 appearances, only broken by Ryan Giggs in 2008. After some brief managerial roles at Preston and Wigan, the England great has worked at his alma mater since 1984 as the club's ambassador.

'United' is on BBC2, Sunday 9pm