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Privilege of a lifetime

Rashneel Kumar
Saturday, July 19, 2014

WHILE the 2014 FIFA World Cup has inspired many through the class and skills of football, for one it has brought back fond memories.

In his 60s, Jayanti Morarji still has vivid memories of meeting and hosting a former World Cup star in the country.

Morarji, a former Nadi player (centre forward), was one of the few locals who were lucky to meet former English great Sir Bobby Charlton during his short visit to Fiji in 1970.

Morarji contacted Times Sports after reading an article on the match between England and Brazil in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

The match is regarded as one of the best games in the history of World Cup by FIFA.

In the eyes of many including the then Brazil manager Mario Zagallo, it was the real final of that World Cup.

Charlton's Fiji trip

England lost to Brazil by 1-0 in the group stage of the competition following Jairzinho's 59th minute goal in what FIFA said was "a match that proved an absolute and unforgettable hit".

Brazil had the likes of Carlos Alberto, Brito, Everaldo, Rivelino, Paul Cesar Caju, Pele and Tostao while England was laced with superstars Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore, Brian Labone, Bobby Charlton and Geoff Hurst.

After losing to Brazil, England managed to beat Romania and Czechoslovakia to make the quarter-finals where the side suffered a major blow losing ace stopper Banks. England eventually lost the quarters to West Germany 3-2.

Brazil went on to win the 1970 World Cup beating Italy 4-1 in the final.

Charlton after the heartache in Mexico jetted into the country with wife Mona for holiday at the Nadi Hotel.

Meeting Charlton

That's when Morarji, who idolised the legendary footballer, met him.

"Actually I approached his wife Mona and told her how much we admired Sir Bobby Charlton and if we could get a chance to meet him in person," Morarji said.

"She talked to him and he agreed to meet us. I hosted the couple along with former Nadi player Teddy Ali who resides in Canada now and Hotel manager Allen Jones at the Bamboo Room.

"Sir Bobby Charlton is a down to earth man and he was so nice to us. We had a little talk, drank and ate together. It was such a privilege meeting such a great man."

The 1970 World Cup experience

Morarji said Charlton also spoke about the 1970 World Cup experience and his disappointment of failing to win the tournament.

"He was really disappointed because they were the defending World Cup champions having won the title in 1966.

"According to Sir Bobby Charlton, the England versus Brazil game was worthy of a final."

Here's a profile from Manchester United website, the club in which Sir Bobby Charlton played:

Born 11 Oct 1937

Signed 1 June 1953

Debut 6 October 1956

Goals 249

Total appearance 758

Position Forward

Left United 1 May 1973

"Nobody embodies the values of Manchester United better than Sir Bobby Charlton. Having survived the trauma of Munich aged just 20, he played as if every game was for his fallen colleagues, recovering from his injuries to reach the pinnacle for both club and country.

"In June 1984 Charlton became a director of Manchester United, a position he still holds today. Already awarded the OBE and CBE, he became Sir Bobby Charlton in June 1994. A respected ambassador for his club, English football and the game across the world football, he is a figurehead: a link with the club's past, present and future."

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