THOUSANDS of mourners will line the streets to bid farewell to England legend Sir Bobby Charlton today.
Fans and members of the public have been invited to play their part in a celebration of the footballing icon’s life at a private funeral service at Manchester Cathedral today.
Sir Bobby will be commemorated alongside former teammates Denis Law and George Best in the “United Trinity” statue at around 1.30pm.
The cortege will then pass through a guard of honour comprising members of the club’s youth team squads and the statue before setting off for the cathedral via the A56, Trinity Way, Chapel Street and Victoria Bridge.
Sir Alex Ferguson, members of the club’s 1968 European Cup-winning team and past and present players are expected to attend the service.
The commemoration is scheduled to start at 2pm and will be led by Canon Nigel Ashworth.
The ceremony, which will not be filmed or broadcast, will include eulogies and tributes from former United chief executive David Gill and a personal tribute from Sir Bobby’s family.
Hymns will include Abide With Me, which is traditionally sung before the FA Cup final, Jerusalem and a rendition of How Great Thou Art by opera singer Russell Watson.
A club statement reads: “It is expected that up to 1,000 guests will attend the cathedral to pay their respects to Sir Bobby and celebrate his incredible life as a husband, father, grandfather and, of course, as one of the finest footballers this country has ever produced.
“The Charlton family and Manchester United would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and respect towards Sir Bobby.”
Sir Bobby’s family has requested donations in lieu of flowers to a series of charities close to Charlton’s heart – the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation, the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust, the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s UK.
The midfielder made 758 appearances and scored 249 goals for the Red Devils in a glittering 17-year playing career.
He survived the 1958 Munich Air Disaster, which claimed the lives of eight of his fellow Busby Babes, and went on to win the World Cup with England in 1966 alongside older brother Jack.
His glittering career also included winning the European Cup with United two years later.
Charlton returned to the club as a director in 1984 and continued to serve both it and football in general as a much-admired ambassador until his latter years.
His stature in the game was reflected in the tributes which poured in after the news of his death was announced.
Sir Alex described him as a “tower of strength” during his 26-year spell at the helm.
In a eulogy published in the matchday programme ahead of the derby against Manchester City, he wrote: “It’s no surprise to me that we’ve seen tributes to Sir Bobby from everywhere in the world, on every TV channel and in every newspaper, because he was without question the greatest English player of all time.
“People loved him because of all those thunderbolt goals, but it was more than that. My dad used to say that humility in success is a sign of greatness, and that was Bobby.
“He never used to boast about his own achievements; it was always about the team and the club.”Sir Bobby (left) will be commemorated alongside former teammates Denis Law and George Best (right) in the “United Trinity” statue[/caption] Sir Bobby pictured in February 2020[/caption] A sea of flowers left in tribute to Sir Bobby following his death last month[/caption]