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Sir Bobby Charlton CBE: oration

Read Dr Manuchehr Soleimani's oration on Sir Bobby Charlton CBE for the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in June 2016.


Sir Bobby Charlton CBE
Sir Bobby Charlton CBE

Vice-Chancellor, it is my pleasure to introduce Sir Bobby Charlton, a true legend. It is particularly fitting in our 50th anniversary, and also 50 years, on 30th July, after Sir Bobby won the FIFA World Cup with England.

Sir Bobby Charlton was born in Ashington, Northumberland, England in October 1937. He first played for the East Northumberland Schools before spending his youth career playing for Manchester United. Sir Bobby was called up to Man U’s senior side in 1956. He played there until 1973 and scored 199 goals appearing in 606 matches. Nobody embodies the values of Manchester United better than Sir Bobby Charlton. Having survived the trauma of Munich aged just 20, he played as if every game was for his fallen colleagues, recovering from his injuries to reach the pinnacle for both club and country. 

With Manchester United Sir Bobby won three times the Football League First Division (same as Premier League today), one FA Cup, four Charity Shields and one European Cup.

This year, Manchester United honoured Sir Bobby Charlton by naming Old Trafford’s South Stand after the England World Cup winner. South Stand includes director’s box and players changing room, so it is a great fitting tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton.

Sir Bobby Charlton represented England in international competition first with England Schoolboys, then up to England Youth, England Under-23, and finally for the senior side where he scored 49 goals in 106 caps. Sir Bobby is considered as one of the best midfielders of all time and won a World Cup with England as well as the Ballon d’Or in 1966. Sir Bobby played in four World Cups (1958, 1962, 1966, 1970). He has won the FIFA World Cup Golden Ball, been named to the FIFA 100, and a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Sir Bobby is not only one of the best footballers of all time, he is also regarded as a true people’s man and an absolute gentleman inside and outside of the football circle. He is a great role model upholding fair play and good behaviour and showing respect for opponents. He is close to his family, Norma, Suzanne and Andrea, and he works tirelessly for charity.

Sir Bobby Charlton founded a landmine charity Find A Better Way in 2011. While visiting a minefield in Cambodia, Sir Bobby saw first-hand the humanitarian damage which landmines cause in war-torn areas both past and present.

The visit moved him to set up Find A Better Way as he felt that, with modern technological advances, there had to be a more efficient way of negating the effects of mines and improving safety and security for local communities whose lives are blighted by them.

With a significant amount of funding already committed to a portfolio of nine research projects at leading UK universities, including my own team here at the University of Bath, Find A Better Way acts as a major funding body for vital, groundbreaking technological research into improving the tools available for the safe removal of landmines and explosive remnants of war. Sir Bobby’s Find a Better Way is committed to cultivating the necessary cross-disciplinary collaboration necessary to find innovative, technology-led solutions, which will ultimately save countless lives. I am delighted to be supported by this great charity.

Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Sir Bobby Charlton, who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

Dr Manuchehr Soleimani

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