Express & Star

Remembering when Sir Bobby Charlton brought Dudley to a standstill

The death of Sir Bobby Charlton will bring back memories for thousands of people who crowded into Dudley market place to see the England football legend unveil the statue of his team-mate Duncan Edwards.

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Sarah Anne Edwards and Sir Bobby Charlton arrive to unveil the statue in 1999

Sir Bobby - whose death was announced on Saturday - received a rock-star like reception when he helped Duncan's 90-year-old mother Sarah Anne Edwards remove the wraps from the life-size bronze statue of the Dudley-born footballer 24 years ago this month.

Sir Bobby survived the 1958 Munich air crash which claimed the life of 21-year-old Duncan, and seven of his Manchester United team-mates. He remained a close friend of Mrs Edwards until her death in 2003, and attended her funeral at St Francis's Church on Dudley's Priory Estate.

Sir Bobby with Sarah Anne Edwards after the unveiling of the statue
Sir Bobby Charlton chats to the crowds after unveiling the Duncan Edwards statue in 1999
Sir Bobby Charlton signing Lawrence Walker's pension book in Dudley after the unveiling of the Duncan Edwards statue in 1999

During the unveiling ceremony, Sir Bobby described Duncan as possibly the greatest player he had ever come across, who was fiercely proud of his home town.

“In Manchester he is revered as if he is still alive,” Sir Bobby told the massed crowds. “He was the only player who made me feel inadequate.

“He was the greatest player I have ever played with, and possibly the most skilful player I have ever seen,” he added.