SIR Alex Ferguson said Sir Bobby Charlton’s funeral today was a fantastic way to remember the man who “supported me 100 per cent”.
Fans flocked to Old Trafford and Manchester Cathedral to attend a public memorial service for Charlton, who died last month aged 86.
The service was attended by former and current United stars, other football dignitaries and even the Prince of Wales.
After the service, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex told the BBC: “It’s a very somber occasion.”
“I thought one of his grandson’s tributes was fantastic.
“It’s not easy to go up there and talk. The speakers did a great job.”
“He was a fantastic man,” he continued. “I’m here at United because of Bobby Charlton.
“The day I came, he supported me 100 percent the whole time.
“He was completely behind me and everything we tried to do with the youth. I’m here because of Bobby Charlton.”
As a director, Charlton was not only instrumental in appointing Ferguson as manager in 1986, but also stood by him through difficult early years.
He could see the work Ferguson was doing in restructuring the club and believed patience would pay off.
Charlton will be remembered as arguably the greatest English footballer of all time, winning the World Cup with his country in 1966 and winning three league titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup with Manchester United in 1968.
However, the eulogies delivered at his memorial service in Manchester Cathedral all made it clear that Charlton’s family came first.
His grandson William Balderston read the final tribute, remembering a “creative, fantastic storyteller” who dreamed up stories about “jelly and custard” to entertain and delight his younger relatives.
He spoke of his “deep gratitude” to Charlton and his wife Norma, adding: “They have shown me what dedication really is.”
Thousands of fans lined the Old Trafford tarmac to pay their respects as Charlton’s funeral procession passed by.
Many hundreds more gathered outside the cathedral and more than 1,000 guests came to pay their respects.
There were teammates from Charlton’s glory days – Alex Stepney, Paddy Crerand and Brian Kidd – and the guest list read like a who’s who of United’s history over the last six decades.
From the current squad, Harry Maguire, Tom Heaton, Jonny Evans and Luke Shaw were present.
Outside the club, the Prince of Wales – the president of the Football Association – led a delegation from the governing body, which included current England coach Gareth Southgate.