The great Bobby Charlton made history in Australia too

Soccer fans across the world continue to pay their respects to Man United legend Bobby Charlton. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

Soccer fans across the world continue to pay their respects to Man United legend Bobby Charlton. (AP PHOTO)

Sir Bobby Charlton’s death has prompted an outpouring of tributes from around the globe – not least from Australia, where some still remember how the beloved English World Cup-winner ended his playing career there.

It may have been a postscript to one of football’s stellar careers but the Manchester United legend ended up becoming the oldest men’s player ever to feature in top-flight Australian football when he turned out for Sydney’s Blacktown City back in 1980.

Charlton made the last appearance of his record-breaking career for United in 1973 – on the same day his World Cup-winning elder brother Jack also called it a day – but it was a good seven years later that he returned to grace Australian fields in Perth, Newcastle and Sydney, having already turned 40.

Attracted by enterprising offers at the start of the 1980s when the game was battling to establish itself in Australia and attracted a host of glamour players from the English game – including Bobby Moore, George Best and Alan Ball – Charlton was a huge draw.

He made three guest appearances in a series of night games for Perth Azzurri, scoring twice at the age of 42 and drawing a crowd of nearly 5000 to watched him find the net in a win over Gosnells City.

His last appearance for Perth was a defeat, but will be remembered for a dazzling individual goal from the wispy-haired veteran who intercepted the ball and beat several defenders in a searing run before firing home.

The fact that he is still fondly remembered was shown by a tribute from Perth SC, a club that emerged out of the Azzurri.

“An icon of the game, it was an honour and privilege to have you wear our sky blue shirt,” said the post on social media.

During that spell, when Charlton also played one match for the now-defunct Newcastle KB United and another for Blacktown, the footballing legend spent plenty of time away from the pitch promoting the game alongside well-known figures of the day

Blacktown, who can make the great claim that Charlton scored the last goal of his unparalleled career for them on March 9, 1980 against St George, paid tribute to the 86-year-old, who died on Saturday, on their official website on Sunday.

By all accounts, it was a bit of a scruffy goal from the great man, then aged 42 years and 150 days – but some 43 years later, Charlton remains the oldest man to score in Australia’s top-flight.


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