It took Sir Bobby Charlton almost 50 years to open his heart about the defining moment of his remarkable life.
That was back in 2007 when Charlton spoke to Sir Michael Parkinson about his horror and guilt over the Munich air disaster which killed eight of his Manchester United team-mates – the 'Busby Babes'. The tragedy in 1958, which also claimed the lives of 15 others, saw Charlton hauled from the burning plane wreckage by team-mate Harry Gregg.
"I thought, 'Why me?', Charlton recalled, "Why am I here with nothing happened to me other than a little gash on the head' and all these other friends had been killed?
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"I felt it wasn't fair, why should it be me? It took a long time for me to feel better about it, certainly.
"It was such a momentous event, for so many young people to die just on the verge of the great success that was ahead of them, and I couldn't understand why.
"We walked away and I couldn't believe it. A few days later you realised what had happened and the enormity of what had happened, then you started thinking about how lucky you had been. I was so lucky."
Charlton was indeed lucky, to put it mildly, but not as lucky as everyone else has been to have had Charlton in their lives in some capacity for so long.
Has there been a more iconic member of our nation's sporting history than Charlton?
Charlton, who was born in Ashington in 1937, would go on to become one of the greatest footballers of all time following a career sprinkled with stardust.
The bulk of it was spent with Manchester United, where he won nine major trophies, including the European Cup at Wembley in 1968 when his two goals as captain saw his club become the first English one to land the famous trophy.
This would be a career in itself for mere mortals, but Charlton was something special and the pinnacle of his came on the same famous turf two years previous when he inspired England to World Cup glory.
West Germany's Franz Beckenbeur was the rising star of the sport at the time, but the Kaiser didn't know what had hit him on that sunny day when Charlton decided to teach him a footballing lesson.
Charlton was a supreme player, but following his retirement in 1970 he went on to become an ever more supreme bloke.
With the same trademark class and distinction he showed on the pitch, Charlton became a global ambassador for his sport, someone who commanded the ultimate respect of those privileged enough to meet him.
It was richly deserved, too. He helped raise millions for charity, used his status to promote and enhance good causes around the world and received a knighthood in 1994.
The truth is, his achievements and contributions to this world are too great to list.
Charlton's final years were spent battling dementia, a cruel disease that sadly shows no respect to anyone – not even someone as great as him. It doesn't give a damn.
But this shouldn't diminish the remarkable legacy Charlton leaves behind.
The colossus left an indelible footprint on our sporting landscape and the picture will be much poorer without him.
But fate could have dealt Charlton a very different hand – and we should all be grateful it didn't, because legends like him don't come along too often.
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