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Sir Bobby Charlton funeral: Coffin driven past thousands of fans at Old Trafford as Wills and Fergie lead mourners

PRINCE William, Sir Alex Ferguson and Gareth Southgate have joined mourners to bid farewell to England legend Sir Bobby Charlton today.

Legends from across the footballing world have gathered to celebrate the life of the World Cup hero at Manchester Cathedral.

Prince William walking into Manchester Cathedral to attend the service today[/caption]
Sir Alex Ferguson among mourners arriving for Sir Bobby Charlton’s funeral[/caption]
Pallbearers carry the coffin of Sir Bobby as widow, Norma Charlton walks behind[/caption]
The funeral cortege making its way past the United Trinity statue outside Old Trafford[/caption]
The cortege made its way past Old Trafford before heading to Manchester Cathedral for the service[/caption]
The funeral cortege making its way to Manchester Cathedral via Old Trafford[/caption]
©Karwai Tang
England manager Gareth Southgate arriving at Sir Bobby’s funeral today[/caption]
Sir Bobby at the unveiling of a stand renamed in his honour in April 2016
Getty Images - Getty
Sir Bobby will be commemorated alongside former teammates Denis Law and George Best in the “United Trinity” statue[/caption]
United legend Paul Scholes arriving at Manchester Cathedral[/caption]
Michael Carrick and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arriving at the funeral service[/caption]
Tom Heaton (left) Harry Maguire (centre) and Luke Shaw (right) were among United’s current players in attendance[/caption]
The order of service at Sir Bobby’s funeral today[/caption]
A tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton at Old Trafford today
Nicky Butt (left) and Roy Keane (right) pictured outside Manchester Cathedral[/caption]

Legends from across the football world gathered to pay their respects at Manchester Cathedral today.

United legends Roy Keane, Nicky Butt, Steve Bruce, Paul Scholes, Mark Hughes, Peter Schmeichel and Andy Cole are among those attending the service at Manchester Cathedral today.

Current players were led by Harry Maguire, with Luke Shaw also joining mourners at the service

Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin, ex-England striker and BBC presenter Gary Lineker, former United midfielder Michael Carrick and Everton defender Ashley Young also attended.

As the funeral cortege passed Old Trafford on its way to Manchester Cathedral, thousands of emotional fans lining the streets outside the stadium broke into applause.

And, in an especially poignant moment, Sir Bobby’s coffin slowly passed United’s “Holy Trinity” statue – erected in tribute to Charlton and his legendary team-mates Denis Law and George Best.

The cortege then began passing 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.

Members of the public were invited forward by security to attend the funeral if they wish, with 500 spots made available.

Speaking outside the service, former United goalkeeper Alex Stepney told Sky Sports News: “I can’t thank him enough for helping me out. He was a perfect gentleman and a winner.

“He was an ordinary man, a great family man. He liked a bit of fun, he had craic, but deep down an honest man, couldn’t have been a better player in international football and for United. He was the best.”

United manager Erik Ten Hag was not in attendance at the ceremony due to an “unbreakable and long-standing personal commitment in Holland”.

The commemoration was scheduled to start at 2pm and was led by Canon Nigel Ashworth.

The ceremony, which was not filmed or broadcast, included eulogies and tributes from former United chief executive David Gill and a personal tribute from Sir Bobby’s family.

Hymns 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.

Simon Jones, 66, of Cheadle, Gtr Manchester, was among the 1,000-strong members of the public who crammed into the narrow flagstone street outside Manchester cathedral.

Wearing a United scarf, the retired baker told how Sir Bobby was one of the stars of the team when he first went to Old Trafford as a ten-year-old.

Mr Jones said: “When I first started going as a young boy he was part of the team. He was part of my footballing upbringing so I wanted to show my respects to him one last time.

“The public will never see the like of him again, especially when you compare him to the modern day players.”

Pensioners Shirley Fox, 85, and husband Trevor, 79, left their home in Huddersfield, West Yorkhire this morning to see Sir Bobby one last time.

Shirley, whose cousin Joseph Walton played for United prior to Sir Bobby, broke down in tears as she recalled Sir Bobby’s involvement in the 1958 Munich air disaster.

The retired shoe shop worker said: “We wanted to say goodbye to a true gentleman.

“We were there when he came back to Manchester from the Munich air disaster.

“We were invited into the funeral service but didn’t want to intrude. We will wait to the end to say our goodbye.”

Sir Bobby died aged 86 last month following a fall at a care home he was staying at amid a battle with dementia.

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.”

Prince William walking inside Manchester Cathedral for the service[/caption]
News images
Thousands lined the streets outside Old Trafford as the cortege made its way past[/caption]
Former United striker Andy Cole attends the funeral today[/caption]
Former United goalkeeper Alex Stepney described Sir Bobby as “the perfect gentleman”[/caption]
United chief executive Richard Arnold pictured walking to the funeral service[/caption]
Sir Bobby pictured in May 1966[/caption]
Sir Bobby (left) will be commemorated alongside former teammates Denis Law and George Best (right) in the “United Trinity” statue[/caption]
Peter Ridsdale arriving for the funeral today[/caption]
Police gather ahead of Sir Bobby’s funeral this afternoon[/caption]
A sea of flowers left in tribute to Sir Bobby following his death last month[/caption]

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