An emotional Sir Bobby Charlton told England’s players to embrace the state-of-the-art facilities at St George’s Park after the training pitch was re-named in the World Cup winner’s honour.
After winning 106 caps, scoring 49 goals and playing a key role in the triumph of 1966, the former midfielder’s achievements were recognised once again ahead of his 80th birthday next Wednesday.
England’s training area at St George’s Park – celebrating its fifth anniversary – has been renamed the Sir Bobby Charlton Pitch in the Manchester United great’s honour.
Charlton and his wife Norma were welcomed by manager Gareth Southgate before training on Monday, where Harry Kane went over to speak to the World Cup winner before the informal unveiling ceremony.
“Lads, before we start training, I mentioned to you earlier Sir Bobby is here today,” the England boss told his squad.
“For us, it is a great privilege, one of our greatest ever players and as we know such an important player in us winning the World Cup.
“One of our greatest ambassadors as well for the game. We’re delighted to have you, it is fantastic for us to name a pitch after you.
“It is Sir Bobby’s 80th birthday next week and also the fifth anniversary of St George’s Park, which he was a big advocate of.”
Charlton became tearful before Southgate spoke and used the opportunity to tell England’s current crop to embrace their surroundings.
“It’s a pleasure,” he said. “I loved every minute when I was a footballer – every minute of the day.
“I used to practice and at Manchester United there was a big wall on the side of the pitch and I used to practice with my left foot, with my right foot, with my chest.
“Fortunately, I became really quite successful but I am thrilled that this sort of facility is here.
“We never had anything like this when we were footballers and I hope you appreciate it.”
Charlton was presented by Southgate with a signed England shirt with ‘Charlton 80’ on the back, before all squad members shook hands with the World Cup winner.
The 79-year-old will also be guest of honour at Thursday’s World Cup qualifier against Slovenia at Wembley, where England could secure qualification for next summer’s tournament.
Source: By PA Sport Staff
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