Having spent much of my life outside my home country, I don’t feel I’m a typical Englishman. Yet there’s one English passion that I share, which is a love of football.
Like other kids worldwide, I spent hours as a boy kicking a ball around in the street and the park with my brothers. I was Bobby Charlton, older brother John was Bobby Moore, and younger brother Steve had to go in goal as Gordon Banks; so we were all stars of England’s 1966 World Cup victory. Many a volley I blasted over the bar in an attempt to replicate my hero’s trademark rocket goals.
That’s an overused word – ‘hero’ – but I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever known that I idolised so. I was lucky enough to see Bobby Charlton play a few times for Manchester United, alongside George Best and Dennis Law, the ‘United Trinity’ as they’re dubbed.
My best night ever was at Wembley in 1968 to watch United beat Benfica and become the first English team to win the European Cup (now known as the Champions League), Bobby scoring the first and last goals in the 4-1 win. I was hooked, and I’ve been a fan of Manchester United ever since.
Maybe Sir Bobby chose a good time to bow out, as Man Utd are currently in the doldrums, floundering mid-table in the English Premier League, with insipid performances, uncaring owners, a famous old stadium that is apparently falling apart, and little sign of change.
This really shouldn’t surprise me, as I’m a firm believer in the notion that all things must pass, but there’s something unflinchingly loyal in my support for the ‘Red Devils’ that makes me dream the return of glory days is just around the corner. Where is our new Bobby Charlton?
is a British writer and photographer based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.