Sir Bobby Charlton was authentic to the core and that endeared him to so many - Daxa Patel

Sir Bobby Charlton, the Manchester United legend, was laid to rest this week. He was instrumental in England winning the World Cup final in 1966. Now, I am not a football fan though I never fail to watch a World Cup final, or if England are in the game.

I am, however, a fan of great leaders and team players, and Sir Bobby ranks as the number one when it comes to inspiring others to be their best.

As I am no football expert I will skip his footballing achievements, but of note, is the fact that Sir Bobby won 106 caps for England and scored 49 international goals, a record at the time.

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Former England captain David Beckham recently said he owes everything he achieved to this great man, and there will be many more who feel the same.

The coffin of Sir Bobby Charlton is carried by pallbearers out of Manchester Cathedral after the funeral service. PIC: Martin Rickett/PA WireThe coffin of Sir Bobby Charlton is carried by pallbearers out of Manchester Cathedral after the funeral service. PIC: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
The coffin of Sir Bobby Charlton is carried by pallbearers out of Manchester Cathedral after the funeral service. PIC: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Reading the many tributes, words like humility and kindness were common, you realise what made him so great. He had the traits of being a decent human and these were his magnetic qualities amongst other things that made him so famous. Highly educated people devoid of these decent traits will fail to inspire others around them.

He was much loved by his club, and the fans, these fans are not limited to Manchester United but are worldwide.

What was so special about this person’s character that has left so many mourning his loss?

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A man born in the North East but adopted as one of their own by the North West says it all for those who understand acceptance does not come easy, it needs to be earned, and he did that with magnificence. This man was authentic to the core.

Leaders like Sir Bobby exude some qualities that are indeed special. He inspired through his action as a sportsman and was known for acting with integrity.

He was a hero to millions, and admired for his sportsmanship qualities, and for his outstanding contribution as a football player. He put this country in a positive light, and he inspired many to take up his sport.

The beautiful irony here is that he was also respected by those like me who do not understand football because he gave bucket loads back to his country and has left a mark that gives us that warm fuzzy feeling when we talk about him.

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We are proud he was part of our national scene and we are proud that he projected the best of this country outside.

Politicians today could learn a great deal from this legend. Inspiring others to emulate them, and to act with integrity are the basic traits of a good leader.

You don’t need to be educated at Harvard or Eton to earn respect, but being true to the cause they dedicate their lives to can make an enormous impact.

We just need to look closer to home to find our own heroes.

Recent political events that led to disturbance on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday are a shame on us. We should respect those who sacrificed their lives to give us the freedom we enjoy today.

Now that is not too much to expect or hope for.

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As a leadership coach my work involves helping people to raise their game but with everything, self-mastery comes first before we can be of service to others around us. I wrote about the despondency I felt in my last column but deep down we are sent reminders when we see a great soul like Sir Bobby Charlton leave the physical world. He left an indelible mark on the nation’s heart.

We humans are blessed with the intelligence to know the difference between right or wrong. Our actions and words reverberate.

This week we marked World Kindness Day. Why do we even need to be reminded to be kind? But we are reminded that kindness is an important part of a decent, and civil society. A small act of kindness from a stranger could be a smile from across the road, a simple acknowledgement of another.

We do not need to see kindness as a commodity with a return on investment. As the saying goes, we reap what we sow, so kindness comes back if we use that in our daily life.

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As I write this it is New Year’s Day in the Hindu calendar and it marks the start of 2080.

I found myself talking to my friend who said every year she takes Diwali food around to her neighbours and they without fail will wish her a happy Diwali. We educate ourselves, and others through our conduct and language.

A small effortless gesture of showing respect and regard to another is the basic quality we all have within our gift, and we all want to be on the receiving end.

All of us, in our public and private life could do with learning the fundamental lessons of being a good human from Sir. Bobby Charlton’s life.

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For me, if I earn the respect and love of my fellow humans my life has had a meaning but as we are never the finished product, we can always learn to be even better than yesterday.

Daxa Manhar Patel is a leadership coach, author and solicitor.