Sir Bobby Charlton was recognised for a generation of dedication and commitment to his chosen sport with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The England and Manchester United football legend was presented his award by fellow knights of realm and lifelong friends, famed boxer Sir Henry Cooper and one of our greatest ever broadcasters Sir Michael Parkinson.
Boasting a World Cup winner’s medal, 106 caps and 49 international goals to his name, there is little doubt in Sir Bobby Charlton’s status as a true footballing legend but his work off the pitch has been as inspirational with his famous and pioneering Soccer Schools – one of the first of their kind and responsible for introducing such talent as David Beckham – now entering their 30th year.
Following in the footsteps of last year’s winner David Beckham, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson was presented with the Virgin Atlantic Outstanding Contribution to British Sport for her outstanding work both on and off the track in the development of the Paralympic movement.
The recently retired Grey-Thompson – the greatest Paralympian of all time with a staggering 11 gold medals - received her award from her compatriot and hero, former Welsh fly half and arguably the greatest rugby player of all time, Gareth Edwards.
TRIBUTES – SIR BOBBY CHARLTON
Sir Michael Parkinson:
“The Lifetime Achievement Award goes to a footballer who was not only a truly great player but a man whose example both on and off the field was both impeccable and inspirational.
Not only is he the perfect example to set before the youth of today he is also an object lesson to today’s players who could learn a lot from his modest manner and deep commitment to upholding the dignity and responsibility of his profession.
I have known him forty years or so and am proud to be in his company. I knew Matt Busby too, well enough not to argue his assessment of footballers. He described our Lifetime Achievement winner as being “as near perfection as a man and a player as it is possible to be”. No-one who knows Sir Bobby would argue with that.”
TRIBUTES – DAME TANNI GREY-THOMPSON
“Ever since the first Paralympic Games was held 20 years ago, one figure in this country has been at the heart of driving Paralympic sport forward, both as a competitor and as a rabble-rousing administrator.
The fact that she is one of the best known names in all sport is testimony not just to her own ability, but to the many battles she has fought and won through her unfailing celtic tenacity about bringing credibility to disabled athletes and recognition for their undoubted talent.
You know you’ve made it, when all you need is just one name…Tanni.”