Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Monday, 19 September 2011 16:43 UK

'Listen' to be a legend, Sir Bobby Charlton tells School Reporters

School Reporters meet Sir Bobby Charlton
School Reporters interview Sir Bobby Charlton at the launch of BBC Sports Unsung Hero Award

Young reporters discovered that football legend Sir Bobby Charlton used to go to their school.

The record goal scorer for England and Manchester United was in Salford Quays at an announcement about the 2011 Sports Personality of the Year show and to launch BBC Sport Unsung Hero Award on Monday 19 September.

During the press conference, the 74-year-old veteran was interviewed by pupils taking part in the BBC's news-making project for young people, School Report.

When he discovered where they were from, he recollected: "I used to go to Stretford Grammar when I was 15 and I arrived here from the north-east. Eventually I went to Man United to be a footballer and I had to leave school. But I went to Stretford Grammar school for about three or four weeks."

The man who led England to a World Cup win in 1966 also told students that the key to success was to listen to their teachers, their sports coaches and their parents.

"You have to be patient, you have to listen and you have to practise, and if you do those things, you've got a chance," he said.

Here School Reporters recount their experience.

By Beloved, 12, Nadia, 14, and Richard, 11
From Stretford Grammar School, Manchester

School Reporters meet Sir Bobby Charlton and BBC Unsung Hero 2010 John Jacobson
Meeting Sir Bobby Charlton and BBC Unsung Hero 2010 John Jacobson

We knew he was a Man United legend but now we know much more about him: He used to go to Stretford Grammar and he has a nice personality.

When you ask questions, you really get to know someone and interviewing Bobby Charlton, we found out that he is a legend and that, doing what he does, he inspires hundreds of thousands of people around the nation.

He was very supportive towards us and taught us that you need to concentrate and to work hard. "If you do that, the world's your oyster," he said. That was a real inspiration to us.

We knew that he was a massive, big legend but he didn't come across anything like that. He's a very down-to-earth person.

We got a little bit nervous at first but there was no need to panic because everything went like a normal conversation. The atmosphere was brilliant.

Messi's 'secret'

Beloved, 12, told Sir Bobby that his unsung hero was his Dad "because he's been motivating me to do stuff I didn't want to do" and that his sporting hero was Lionel Messi. "He has a passion; you can see he wants to play football, like you," he told Sir Bobby.

The record holder, who made 758 Manchester United appearances, revealed that a key to the Argentine's success was his willingness to listen to his coach, to practise and to concentrate hard.

"That's what Messi used to do. I know that for a fact. When he was a little lad, he told me," said Sir Bobby, adding: "You've got to try and do the same if you can. Who knows, you could be the next one."

He went on to explain that his unsung hero was his teacher, who used to run him and other team members about in his car.

Sir Bobby said: "He did it all for nothing because he liked his football team and he wanted the best for them. And the only way that he could give his best was to drive them everywhere. I really, really appreciated what he did."

School Reporters meet Sir Bobby Charlton
"Please can I have your autograph?" asks School Reporter Nadia

Standing ovation

Richard, 11, remembered the long applause while watching coverage of Sir Bobby collecting the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, and asked what it felt like.

"What pleased me more than anything was that I got a really big standing ovation - and the crowd were all from Liverpool," he said: "Which is not usual for Manchester people; the two don't always get on. I was really, really quite moved."


Nadia, 14, who, one day, aspires to be Head of Pediatrics, asked Sir Bobby to define the qualities of a champion.

He told her to accept good advice from teachers and parents. "You have to listen to people who you know know better than you and maybe have experienced what you need to know," he said.

"The world's your oyster. Anybody can win; you can win," he added.

The player who captained Manchester United to a European Cup win in 1968 recounted a recent trip to Japan where he witnessed the ball-juggling skills of the Women's World Cup champions.

He reflected: "We didn't take girls' football seriously at one stage. That was a mistake."

School Reporters meet BBC Unsung Hero 2010 John Jacobson
Regional Unsung Hero 2010 John Jacobson talks handball with students


We also interviewed John Jacobson, who has been coaching handball for 42 years, and was named the BBC's North West unsung sporting hero for 2010.

He made us want to take up handball. We are going to ask about playing it at school.

Reporters for real

We enjoyed being reporters. It was challenging doing the research, finding the right question to ask, but once we'd done that, it became easy. You have to pretend it's like a normal conversation.

We learned that when asking questions, you always need to gather the relevant information and to really take in the information that is given you.

There were a lot of pictures being taken of us. We felt very important, like actual reporters. It was a brilliant experience and we want to do it again.

Sports Personality from Salford
19 Sep 11 |  SOL
Handballer wins unsung hero title
18 Nov 10 |  People and Places
Lifetime achievement award for Charlton
14 Dec 08 |  Sports Personality
Sir Bobby Charlton: Football Icon
12 Apr 11 |  Inside Sport
The interview of a lifetime with David Beckham
19 Dec 10 |  School Report


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