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5 Famous footballers who served in the armed forces

Bobby Charlton scores for Manchester United in the 1958 European Cup
Rohit Menon
Modified 24 Aug 2015, 00:15 IST
Top 5 / Top 10

A professional footballer's life is a strenuous one. It requires a lot of preparation, patience, talent and a little bit of luck. A lot of a player’s efforts go into maintaining the high level of performance required to make it at the club level, for which he is handsomely rewarded. While football at the club level is the mainstay of football, representing one's country at the international level is the ultimate aim of any player. Serving their country gives them a purpose to fight for wins and titles, even more so than with clubs due to the emotional attachment to the country.Many people argue that players who represent their national team are serving their country well and are inspiring the hopes of their fellow people, although it doesn’t even compare to the service provided by the armed forces. Apart from defending the honour of their country from other foreign powers, they help the government in settling internal issues and also extend help to their neighbouring countries during crises. There have been plenty of football players who have served their countries in different ways during times of war and have also managed to have highly successful professional careers. Their passion, dedication and professionalism have made them a source of huge pride for their countries and has also established them as role models for generations to come.Here are five of the most famous footballers who served the army, picked from an extensive list of players.

#1 Sir Bobby Charlton

Sir Robert Charlton is considered by many to be one of the greatest midfielders of all time, and possibly one of the best to have ever played for England. The long retired midfielder is well known for winning the World Cup with his national side in 1966 and his long illustrious career with Manchester United, which established him as a legend of the game.

After joining the United academy as a 15-year-old in 1953, Bobby was pushed by his mother to pursue electrical engineering, but he decided against it by signing a professional contract in the following year. He made his official debut against Charlton Athletic in 1956 and went on to become one of the main members of Matt Busby’s bunch of footballers who were famously named Busby Babes. These talented players were trained through the Manchester United youth system from the 1940’s to the 1960’s, with a view to rebuilding the club in the aftermath of the Second World War. 

Bobby joined the Royal Army Ordnance Corps in the year of his debut after receiving the suggestion from his manager. He served the corps along with United team-mate Duncan Edwards in Shrewsbury while simultaneously building his football career, often playing on the weekend for his club after working on the other days. The Manchester United great spent 17 seasons at Old Trafford where he made 758 appearances and scored 249 goals overall, which makes him the club’s highest goalscorer of all time. Three first division titles, an FA Cup and a European Cup makes for an impressive trophy haul for the Englishman during his spell at the club. He also won the Ballon D’or award in 1966, which is the same year he won the World Cup with England. 

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Published 23 Aug 2015, 04:23 IST
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