Sir Bobby will receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in recognition of his significant sporting success and charitable work.
The timing of Sir Bobby’s honorary degree award is particularly fitting. In the same year the University celebrates its 50th anniversary, Sir Bobby celebrates 50 years since helping England lift the football World Cup trophy for the first and only time.
This footballing legend’s history is well documented. Playing for the world-famous Manchester United between 1956 and 1973, Sir Bobby scored 199 goals in 606 club appearances. During his 17-year career at the club, United won three league titles, one FA Cup, four Charity Shields and were the first English club to win the European Cup.
Sir Bobby’s national honours are just as impressive, earning 106 caps and scoring 49 goals. Considered one of the best midfielders of all time, he was named in four World Cup England squads (1958, 1962, 1966, and 1970), most famously earning a winner’s medal in 1966 as well as the Ballon d’Or in the same year. Sir Bobby retired in 1975 and was awarded the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.
Sir Bobby founded the landmine charity Find A Better Way (FABW) in 2011 following a visit to a minefield in Cambodia in 2008, where he saw first-hand the devastation landmines cause in former areas of conflict.
FABW funds research into innovative new technologies for landmine detection, mine-risk education for people who live among unexploded ordinance, and research into prostheses and regenerative medicine for landmine victims.
The charity works closely with the University of Bath, funding a research project led by Dr Manuch Soleimani. Modern landmines are mostly composed of plastic, hampering the effectiveness of traditional metal detection technology. Dr Soleimani’s team is developing an innovative new camera system which will create 3D images of suspect objects up to 10cm underground.
Sir Bobby said:
I’m especially delighted to be honoured by the University of Bath, which was not only founded in the year of my most important moment as a footballer, but is also partnered with my charity Find A Better Way in what I hope will be the most important work of my life: finding solutions to the devastation caused by landmines worldwide.
Associate Professor in the University’s Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Dr Soleimani, who is giving Sir Bobby’s oration, said:
Sir Bobby is not only one of the greatest ever footballers and sportsmen, he is a true gentleman and a much loved person outside of sport. Sir Bobby's FABW is a fantastic charity that is already helping save lives through its landmine education programme. I am delighted to be supported by the charity and look forward to playing a part in helping FABW reduce the number of lives lost as a result of landmines.
The University’s Summer Graduations will take place in Bath Abbey from Tuesday 28 to Thursday 30 June. Over 2,500 students will graduate and join the University’s growing alumni network of over 100,000 people.