Russell Watson has said it was an emotional moment when he sang at the funeral of “gentleman” Sir Bobby Charlton.
The Salford-born classical singer, who is in the middle of his Magnificent Buildings Tour, said he could see a tear in the eye of Sir Bobby’s widow Lady Norma as he performed How Great Thou Art at the service held for the late footballer, who died in October aged 86.
Sir Bobby will be remembered as arguably the greatest English footballer of all time, a World Cup winner in 1966 with his country and a winner of three league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup with Manchester United in 1968.
Fans flocked to United’s Old Trafford stadium to pay their respects as the funeral cortege drove past on Monday.
After singing at Manchester Cathedral, Watson, 56, told the PA news agency: “It was an emotional day. It was an emotional moment.”
He added: “I don’t think in my wildest dreams I would have ever imagined at any stage in my life as a child that I would be singing or being invited to sing at the funeral of the legend that was Bobby Charlton. A great honour for me.”
Watson recalled meeting Sir Bobby: “I just remember spending the entire evening bending his ear about, I’m sure, questions that he’s been asked 1,000 times before.
“It was interesting because he told them with such glee and almost like it was the first time he’d ever told the stories, which was what I found so incredible.
“It was only when I heard his grandson speak about him today at the funeral that I realised that he loved repeating the stories and he was just a gentleman through and through, I think.
“I mean, we talk about his prowess as a footballer, but I think the one thing that really stands out for me with regards to Sir Bobby Charlton was the fact that he was a very charitable man, but also a consummate professional.
“He was also a very, very humble and a very, very giving human being.
“He was just a great bloke basically.”
Watson said Sir Bobby was probably “the greatest footballing legend” that Manchester United has ever created.
“I mean he had success as a youth player; he had success as a club footballer, and then, the ultimate accolade of being one of the World Cup winners in 1966.
“So what a legacy to leave behind. I think a footballer that will never be forgotten,” Watson added.