Charlton brothers’ heroes’ homecoming
Bobby & Jack Charlton won the World Cup together in 1966
The brothers were very different as footballers and men
The Charltons fell out publicly before reconciling in 2008
When the final whistle blew in the 1966 FIFA World Cup™ Final, Bobby Charlton headed straight for his older brother. "Nobody can ever take this moment away from us," he told Jack as they embraced, tears streaming down the younger sibling’s face.
The image above shows the Charltons in the days that followed as they returned home to Ashington, the little mining town in which their football journeys had begun. Such achievements and adulation would have seemed a world away during that tough and impoverished childhood, when scarcity of space and money meant the brothers had to share a bed.
A close bond was formed during those early years and, when Jack married in 1957, he asked Bobby to be his best man. "It was not through convention, but because he was my best friend," he said later.
Yet despite their shared upbringing and passion for football, these World Cup-winning brothers could hardly have been any more different, on or off the field. Bobby was the short, stocky and brilliant attacker; Jack the lanky, uncompromising centre-half. And while the younger brother was shy and studious, the elder was loud, gregarious and, at times, rebellious.
Over time, these differences – and tensions over the relationship between their mother and Bobby’s wife, Norma – led to the siblings growing apart and, then, falling out spectacularly. In 2007, Bobby described as “absolutely disgraceful” comments Jack had made about Norma, adding: "We've never been further apart than we are now. I just don't want to know him.”
Fortunately, a very public reconciliation followed. It came just over a year later, when Bobby was presented with a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award - with Jack handing over the trophy on national television. There were smiles, handshakes and then, just as in 1966, an embrace. “Bobby Charlton is the greatest player I’ve ever seen,” Jack told the assembled crowd. “And he’s my brother.”
“We've had our little ups and downs,” Bobby reflected at the time. “But he was part of the World Cup, we played together at national level and there are things that just override everything. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to give it to me. It was just right."
Did you know? The Charlton brother are one of just two sets of siblings to win the World Cup, the others being West Germany’s Fritz and Ottmar Walter in 1954. Jack, Bobby and that title-winning England team naturally feature prominently in the FIFA World Football Museum’s 1966 exhibit.