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  Friday, 6 October, 2000, 04:58 GMT 05:58 UK
Charlton looks back
Sir Bobby Charlton at Wembley
Sir Bobby Charlton in his playing days at Wembley
England soccer legend Sir Bobby Charlton gives BBC Sport his thoughts on the end of the old Wembley Stadium.

World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton will have mixed feelings when the bulldozers move in at Wembley.

"I feel sad in some ways and happy in others," says Sir Bobby, who starred in that famous victory over West Germany beneath the Twin Towers in 1966.

"It's sad because of the history of the ground. When it was first opened in 1923, 200,000 people crammed in, desperate to see it and were very proud of it and rightly so.

"I'll be pleased when it's knocked down. When you think of it as our national stadium, it's tired and it needs redoing - the best thing to do is knock it down and start from scratch.


I never played anywhere where I felt so comfortable and happy as Wembley
Sir Bobby Charlton

"The new stadium has been so well designed - we've been told it will create the same atmosphere that the old Wembley was famous for."

The former Manchester United stiker felt at home on the Wembley grass.

"What I remember most about Wembley Stadium was the pitch," he says.

"When I was 15 playing for England schoolboys, and having played on some really rough grounds in the north east of England, having to play at Wembley in the cup final was absolutely unbelievable.

"When I walked on the pitch, I thought someone was going to tell us we can't play on this - this is just too good - it was like a carpet, a bowling green.

"I played on it and scored a couple of goals and I thought I hope I get the opportunity to play here again, and fortunately I did."

Sir Bobby Charlton
Sir Bobby loved the Wembley pitch

Of all the occasions in the venue's footballing history, there is no doubt which one ranks highest in his memory.

"Wembley has been famous for many great matches - European Cup finals, internationals, but the most important game Wembley ever hosted was the World Cup final in 1966," he says.

"For Germany to be the last match before it's demolished gives it extra significance.

"I think it will be a tough game and I think we are ready for it.

"But I don't think of Wembley as an England-Germany thing - more of it being a great place where great football matches were held."

The stadium holds many special memories for Sir Bobby.

"I thought it was magic - I travelled all over the world and I never played anywhere where I felt so comfortable and happy," he says.

"I used to feel Wembley was right - the right place to hold really big games and I've never changed my feelings about that.

"The players loved playing there - you walk onto the pitch and the ball runs smooth.

"I always remember the World Cup - many famous cup finals, great internationals, Barca winning the Champions League final."

Overtaken

But time has taken its toll, and change became inevitable.

"t was a great place, great venue, but it's been overtaken by others," says Sir Bobby.

"When Wembley was built, there was nothing like it in the world.

"People around the world look on England as the home of football. They know the importance of Wembley - it has this affection. Time has passed it by."

He says architect Lord Foster brought gasps when he unveiled the ambitious plans for the new Wembley Stadium.

"I think the expectation around the world is it has to be better than anywhere else - and I think it will be," he says.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Sir Bobby Charlton
talks about his Wembley memories
See also:

01 Oct 00 | Wembley
01 Oct 00 | Wembley
24 Sep 00 | Sport Front Page
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