The card celebrates the 60th anniversary of Sir Bobby’s Manchester United debut and sees the club legend surrounded by 60 children from Foundation projects, all donning Santa hats and club scarves for the festive season.
One of England’s greatest ever players, Sir Bobby made 758 appearances for United, winning three League titles, one FA Cup and the European Cup, going on to become the club’s record breaking top scorer with 249 goals. Fittingly, Sir Bobby also scored in the final game to be played on Christmas Day at Old Trafford; a 3-0 victory over Luton Town, in 1957.
Shot by celebrated portrait photographer Rankin, the image shows the 1966 World Cup winner, accompanied by 60 children from Manchester United Foundation partner schools and projects, at the entrance to the players’ tunnel at Old Trafford. The children represent six decades of Sir Bobby’s service to the Club and the enormous contribution to charity he has made over the years.
Two children from each of the Foundation’s 20 partner schools, plus representatives from the Street Reds programme and Girls’ Regional Talent Club, were invited to take part in the exclusive photo shoot as a reward for their hard work and dedication, and each received a Manchester United shirt, scarf and Santa hat.
Speaking of the Christmas photoshoot, Sir Bobby Charlton said:
“To meet these wonderful children through the Foundation was a fantastic experience and it’s great for their hard work and efforts to be recognised this Christmas.
“There have been so many unforgettable experiences for me through this wonderful football club and this Christmas card celebrates what has been such a memorable year for me and my family.”
Photographer Rankin also commented:
“It’s an honour to photograph Sir Bobby Charlton and be a part of the Manchester United Christmas card. It’s very exciting; I’ve only been to Old Trafford once before and have photographed Sir Bobby in the past but not on this scale.”
Heidi, aged 11 from Middleton Technology School took part in the Christmas card photoshoot and added:
“It was really good, just to see Sir Bobby Charlton made me really happy; it’s like a one in a million opportunity. I asked him what number he played at Manchester United and he said 9, 10 and 11 – I play at number 10 so that made me feel really good.”
The card completes a year of celebration in honour of Sir Bobby, who made his Manchester United debut on 6th October 1956, aged just 19, before going on to be one of the Club’s greatest ever players. In April, the club renamed the South Stand of Old Trafford the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, in recognition of his outstanding career with United.
A digital version of the card will be sent the millions of Manchester United supporters celebrating Christmas around the world.