Sir Bobby Charlton, shown in New York City on March 19, 2002, was lauded as a 'giant of the game of football' following the announcement of his death at age 86 on Saturday. File Photo by Ezio Petersen/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 21 (UPI) -- British soccer legend Bobby Charlton, a key figure in England's 1966 World Cup victory and a key player on some of Manchester United's best teams, has died at age 86, both clubs announced Saturday.
Charlton is most remembered for his time with United, the club for which he played 758 games and scored 249 goals during a 17-year career.
His exploits on the pitch helped the Premier League club win three championship titles, including the FA Cup and a thrilling victory at the European Cup at Wembley in 1968.
Charlton also won 106 caps and scored 49 goals during his time with England, culminating in the 1966 World Cup victory.
Charlton began playing football during the early 1950s while he was in high school, where he won three FA Youth Cups. In 1956 he turned pro, scoring 10 goals for United on the way to winning his first league title the same season.
In February 1958, eight of the club's players were among 23 who died in a plane crash in Munich while returning home from a tournament in Belgrade. Charlton was among those who survived the disaster and walked away with only minor injuries.
He was a pillar of strength as the team recovered from the tragedy and a central figure in shaping the club's future, inspiring it to new heights of success in the subsequent years.
United issued a statement saying the club was in mourning, calling Charlton "one of the greatest and most beloved players in the history of our club."
"Sir Bobby was a hero to millions, not just in Manchester, or the United Kingdom, but wherever football is played around the world," the statement said, calling him a "giant of the game."
After Charlton retired from playing in 1980, he served as Manchester United's director for nearly four decades while establishing the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation, which provides aid for victims of war.
Charlton's family also issued a statement confirming his passing and asking for privacy and time to grieve.
"It is with great sadness that we share the news that Sir Bobby passed peacefully in the early hours of Saturday morning. He was surrounded by his family."
Frances Sternhagen attends the premiere of "Dolphin Tale" on September 17, 2011. Sternhagen, best known for her recurring roles on "Cheers," "ER" and "Sex and the City," died at the age of 93 on November 27. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo