By the time you read this Wayne Rooney may well have become England’s all time leading goalscorer, overtaking Bobby Charlton’s total of 49.

I have no intention of belittling Rooney’s achievement; despite his poor record in major tournaments, his goals per minutes played, and strike rate in qualifying games, stand comparison with modern players such as Lineker,. Shearer, and Owen.

However, I would hope that parents everywhere will use this opportunity to acknowledge his feat, then introduce their children to the career of the fellow Manchester United player he has overtaken in the charts, and whose talent and impact on the wider game, offer a stark illustration of the chasm that exists between the very good, and the truly, indisputably great.

Bobby Charlton was described by Franz Beckenbauer, that titan of German football, as the greatest opponent he ever faced. The Kaiser is a deep thinker who weighs his words carefully, and given that he counted Pele and Cruyff among his adversaries during a stellar career, this accolade shows why Charlton was a genuine icon of world football, the Maradona or Messi of his generation.

Two footed, fast, and skilful, his most famed attribute was a thunderous shot from distance which was made all the more impressive given the heavy, unresponsive leather footballs used at the time. Winner of both the Champions League and World Cup, and the stand out performer in both tournaments, he also won the League three times.

However, through the effects of tragedy, Charlton stood for more than sporting genius. As a survivor of the Munich air crash that killed half of a young Man United team in 1958, his loyalty, bravery, and determination in helping to re-build his shattered Club, meant that be became a standard bearer for the team, and the City of Manchester.

He played with flair, style, and sportsmanship, painfully aware that he was living the dreams of those he left behind among the smouldering wreckage. Indeed, many years later he confessed to suffering from terrible guilt that he had survived through sheer luck (he changed seats and moved to the back of the plane prior to a third take off attempt, an action that saved his life), whilst some of his closest friends died. His World Cup winning brother Jack said that the events of 58 changed him forever; he rarely smiled any more, and could seem distant, and aloof.

He has been a dignified, loyal, and thoughtful ambassador to Club and Country for over 50 years, but it’s for virtuosity on the pitch that he’ll always be remembered. A natural shyness, hardened by tragedy, meant that words have never come easily to Sir Bobby, but we should all be grateful that few players have ever been so thrillingly articulate in the language of football as Charlton.