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4.4 out of 5 stars44
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Bobby Charlton epitomises the best of English football. He was given a much deserved knighthood for his considerable services to both club and country and one of only two Englishmen to lift both the World and European cups. His autobiography has been split into his Manchester United years and his England years, neither book strays much into the territory of the other and here we share his United years.

I attended a sports dinner a few years ago where he spoke, the audience being mainly businessmen all suited up and serious. I have to say that Sir Bobby is not a great orator, but the audience sat drinking in every word from a real life football legend. The second he finished and the considerable applause had stopped, there was a flood of people desperate for his autograph, I'm not ashamed to say I was one of them.

So obviously I was going to enjoy this half of his autobiography. Sir Bobby gives us a strong sense of his football roots in the mining community and clearly understands that in those days football was the only sense of relief and entertainment for working class people. He was one of those people and appreciates how lucky he was that his talent with a ball give him a life in football. He is a quiet man who would obviously rather be out of the limelight and his modesty and dedication seep through every page of this book. He does tackle a number of difficult issues, his relationship with his mother and brother Jack, the Munich disaster and the politics and changes at Manchester United. He shares views and stories about a number of players and Managers and of course we see the history of Manchester United through his eyes over a period of about 50 years.

Few have deserved to be described as a football legend as much as Sir Bobby Charlton.
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on 4 December 2007
This new autobiography was written with James Lawton, the respected Independent newspaper journalist, who also cooperated on the biographies of Nobby Stiles and Joe Jordan among others.

The book inevitably opens with the Munch tragedy and unsurprisingly revisits that dreadful event of February 1958 on several occasions. Bobby Charlton somehow survived that catastrophic plane accident when so many of his young teammates perished. He came to, still strapped in his seat, fifty yards away from the crumpled Elizabethan airliner.

An event such as that is certain to affect anyone's life, how could it not, and yet somehow it encapsulated the spirit of Manchester United Football Club. It took ten years to re-build the team under their charismatic manager Sir Matt Busby, to sufficient strength to compete for and eventually win the European Cup on that memorable May night at Wembley in 1968.

The book is filled with interesting stories that will not just be of interest to supporters of Manchester United but to football fans everywhere. Of his upbringing and family difficulties, of his famous footballing forebears, and of how he would beg tickets from Bill Shankly for Liverpool FC's early European glory nights, and would regularly trek down the East Lancs road to the Anfield Stadium to take in the spectacle, only to be warmly welcomed on his arrival there by everyone. How things have changed in areas such as this, and not always for the better.

The book is a moving portrait of England's record goal scorer ever. Of his times playing with Duncan Edwards and George Best and Denis Law, of his admiration for Eric Cantona, Bryan Robson and Roy Keane, of how he first came across David Beckham as a young schoolboy on one of his children's football courses. There is praise too for the current manager Sir Alex Ferguson, a manager that Bobby has supported at every turn since his appointment way back in the mid eighties.

At the end of the book you will find his selection of the best Manchester United eleven from 1955 to the present day, and that makes very interesting reading, and includes one or two surprises.

If you are interested in football, regardless of whether you follow the reds of Manchester, you will find something here to warm you on a cold winter night. Poignant, memorable, thrilling, are just three of the adjectives that spring to mind that belong to those amazing times. I've read it once in record time, and I shall read it again before the year is out.
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on 9 March 2008
Bobby Charlton is one of the most unassuming people you could wish to meet. Some describe him as dour and too serious and that may be true but this book will help you understand the reasons why this man is a national treasure. It's a thoughtful book covering the tragedies and the triumphs in a wonderfully open and honest manner. James Lawton as his 'ghost writer' has done an excellent job in putting Bobby's thoughts into words and every page is delivered with skill and a high degree of interest. Bobby doesn't pull punches when he tells about the rift with his brother or the over-exaggeration of his mother's influence. His memories of the Busby Babes and the sadness of the Aircrash make great reading and, more recently, his inside views on Fergies' United are compelling. Beckham's duplicity about his contract negotiations are just one example of how Bobby's inate integrity contrasts with the attitude of some modern day heroes. Read this and Bill Foulkes wonderful autobiography and you'll really understand the difference.
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on 23 March 2010
Sir Bobby must have kept a diary to reveal his autobiography in such great detail. His account of the Munich air disaster was so moving it brought a tear to my eye. He managed to give the reader an out of body experience, I actually felt like I was there for a moment. His deep recollection, of each and every player who was on that plane and suffered such terrible loss, was truly remarkable. The love he had for Manchester United & his fellow professionals, including Duncan Edwards especially, is fascinating. Duncan Edwards, just sounds, so much like Rooney.

Sir Bobby's use of the English Language is as thorough as that of an esteemed author. He could have formed another career as a writer or journalist, basically this man could have done what he wanted. Anything he turned his hand to, he would have succeeded.

I plan to read his England memories,My England Years: The Autobiography during the World Cup, this man is the sort of example players of today should aspire to. I wonder how many of the current crop have actually read his book. For me Sir Bobby is the greatest English Footballer in the history of our game. To score 49 goals from midfield is concrete evidence of this. This may be a a patronising remark, but I think he would be held in even higher esteem, if that's possible, if he'd shaved all his hair off. Not at the time but for younger folk, image concious kids, might just look at the video film and have an ageist view. Not me. He wasn't worried about this, he was so driven, so determined. Yes, he had natural talent in abundance, but genuine hard work, was what he prided himself on.

How he got time to record his memories, makes his story all the more inspirational. I would recommend any book by this man to anyone, I look forward to reading his England book & dread the day I hear of his passing..
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on 7 September 2008
I always admired Bobby Charlton as a footballer but thought he seemed a little distant as a man. This well-written autobiography seeks to redress that balance and my overall impression is of a man who recognised his own talent but was also generous in that regard to others. No one can fail to be moved by his account of Munich and his clear love for his friends who tragically lost their lives. I wasn't born at the time but as a football fan I wonder how brilliant that team would have been had the air crash not happened.

The press always made a big thing of Charlton and Best not liking each other when the truth is so obviously that here were two immensely talented men who moved in different social circles. Bobby was a family man whereas George was a much younger, single man revelling in the pop-star attention he was receiving. Significantly, Dennis Law who was the other member of this talented triumvirate appeared to lead his own life as well and appeared to have little interest in the game other than playing.

I loved the stories of Nobby Stiles and his propensity to cause mayhem in public. I was also interested in Bobby's explanation of the story surrounding Alex Ferguson prior to his reign becoming successful. I always believed that he would have been sacked if Man Utd had not beaten Forest in that famous FA Cup tie, when in fact, the truth seems considerably different.

Bobby Charlton was a true world-class footballer and his value in the modern game would be astronomical. I dislike autobiographies from 20-something footballers who have hardly lived, but applaud this tome from a man who has had time to reflect upon a very full and successful career. I look forward to reading his memoirs of playing for England. Thoroughly recommeded.
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Bobby Charlton is a survivor and one of the few people who genuinely deserve the accolade of "sporting legend.". At times the first part of his autobiography rather rambles but it is nice to have his own account of his life.

The Charlton story has been chronicled many times. Here Bobby shows just why he is one of this country's greatest footballing ambassadors. The centre point of the book is the Munich air crash disaster that saw the Busby Babes decimated with the loss of many players including the incomparable Duncan Edwards who has been held up by many to be the greatest ever English footballer. Lives were cut short and Charlton was left to wonder just why he had been saved and got out of the crash with just a few cuts and bruises.

We hear that he has been haunted by the crash virtually everyday of his life. But Charlton is a survivor who came to terms with the losses and helped to re-build Manchester United. Here he reminisces on the past, the great players such as Law and Best and today's young Lions. He heralds Paul Scoles as the ultimate and complete professional football (despite leaving him out of his best ever Manchester United team).

Charlton is never going to be confrontational or controversial, but there are some interesting passages here which suggest that a contributory factor to the Munich crash was the need to return to the United Kingdom due to a directive from the Football Association. Charlton also comments on the lack of support from Alan Hardacre of the FA for European Football and the vision from Sir Matt Busby that Europe was the future of football (and how true has this been). He also tackles the family feuds between himself, his brother Jack, his wife and his strong willed mother. There is a great honesty about this book as you would expect from such a gentleman. The book also includes his post Manchester years before returning to the club as a director.

Charlton names his best ever Manchester XI. He is far too modest to include himself in this team. Other people must do this for him. And whilst accepting his laudatory comments regarding Paul Scoles I have to say that the author himself is probably the perfect professional and possibly (just possibly) England's greatest player of all time. It says much for the modesty of the author that the book is almost written as an outsider looking in and marvelling at the skills of others. I had the honour a number of years ago of talking to Bobby Charlton about his soccer school for a newspaper article. I found him quite a difficult man to talk to as he seemed rather shy. Reading this book shows that he has always shunned publicity and obviously takes a little bit of getting to know. I look forward to the second volume of his autobiography that deals with the England years and obviously focuses on the 1966 World Cup triumph.
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on 6 April 2016
I was only 8 when Charlton retired so I just about remember the twilight of his career but nothing earlier. Really detailed (as you would expect) information about his MUFC career and his return to the club as a director in the 80s as well as his brief spell in charge of Preston. Very frank about the semi family feud involving the lack of interaction between his wife and mother which also caused a strain in his relationship with Jack. The munich tragedy is covered with sensitivity and you sense he still bears some scars when this book went to print nearly 50 years on.. The brief managerial careers of Mcguinness and O'Farrell are too briefly covered IMHO and I wonder whether there more to tell about Manchester United post Busby... That was the really only disappointing aspect of the book Still a very good read though
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on 21 August 2009
There are plenty of other reviews, so I won't go on too much. But I will say that this is THE finest sports biogaphy, or autobiography, I've ever read.

It's not just that it's a wonderful, moving, and as we all know, tragic story - it's the way it is written. Quite clearly the collaboration between Bobby Charlton and James Lawton has worked superbly.

I do have just one complaint, though - why does Charlton insist, throughout the book, on referring to the late, great Sir Matt Busby as "the Old Man"? To me it smacked of a little disrespect - which I would think highly unlike the real Bobby Charlton.

Despite this, I have no hesitation in giving this book five stars - and now I'm eagerly off to start the second part, Charlton's account of his years playing for England.
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on 28 April 2013
Sir Bobby Charlton, it is his autobiography (which he does in two parts, one United and one England). It was a long awaited release. He goes back through his life, childhood, playing for United and speaks about modern day United and his love of a certain Paul Scholes in particular. It was such an incredible read and interesting to get a personal account of the man who seen it all in the brilliant and devastating times of Manchester United. The part about Munich is incredibly sad. Every United and indeed football fan would love this book. Bobby really does tell a great story and he is the very essence of the club itself. It is the way it is written too that makes this so strong, a real read unlike too many football books especially autobiographies.
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on 10 August 2009
A moving book for anyone but a must for any football fan who grew up in manchester in the fifties will never forget that terrible feb day of the munich disaster which left its mark on all in the city.
Having regularly travelled myself from manchester to new york and had bob as a fellow passenger i often wondered particularly around the time of sep 11th what went through his mind . Any guilt at surviving when so many of his friends perished should be gone now when one considers the wonderful example this man has set not only as a footballer but as a human being ,
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