Manchester United great Bobby Charlton said he felt proud as the south stand at Old Trafford was renamed in his honour on Sunday.
A key member of the England team that won the 1966 World Cup, Charlton scored a club record 249 goals in 758 appearances for United from 1956 to 1973.
The newly renamed stand was unveiled before United’s 1-0 Premier League win at home to Everton on Sunday.
Charlton, 78, appeared visibly moved as he received a huge ovation from fans when he took the field alongside his wife as the sign above the stand bearing the words the ‘Sir Bobby Charlton Stand’ in big red letters was revealed to the crowd.
“This is a great honour and I am very proud for myself and my family,” said Charlton. “Manchester United has been such an important part of my life and I have so many wonderful memories of this ‘Theatre of Dreams’.”
Widely regarded as one of world football’s best attacking midfielders, Charlton helped United win three domestic league titles, the FA Cup and the club’s first European Cup trophy in 1968.
United’s defeat of Portuguese giants Benfica in a final at London’s Wembley stadium was especially poignant for Charlton and then manager Matt Busby as they were both among the survivors from the 1958 Munich air disaster that killed 23 people, including eight United players, as they returned from a European tie.
One of the most respected figures in English football, Charlton also served as a United director after his playing days were over.
He was instrumental in United’s decision to hire and then retain legendary manager Alex Ferguson, who needed several years to win the first of 28 trophies he eventually brought to Old Trafford.
“The great attribute of Bobby — and it’s a great example to anybody who has been successful — is how he has kept his feet on the ground and retained his humility all his life,” Ferguson told MUTV, the club’s in-house television station.
Sunday’s match also served to mark the 60th anniversary of Charlton’s United debut, which saw him score twice in a 4-2 win over Charlton Athletic.