Charlton PA

Sir Bobby Charlton interview

Sir Bobby Charlton was England's midfield talisman when they won their one and only World Cup in 1966. Capped 106 times by his country, he remains the leading scorer with 49 goals, and also played more than 600 times for Manchester United. With England in the midst of their World Cup qualifying campaign, the 75-year-old talked to Orange about their World Cup hopes, Wayne Rooney and Manchester United...

It's been nearly half a decade since England won the World Cup, how do you rate their chances?

I think the problem is that the papers always massively build up the players and team before a tournament, and we're always disappointed when those expectations aren't met. It's great they and the fans have such enthusiasm for the game, and I do too. I would desperately love England to win the World Cup again. But I don't think it will happen next year.

Do you think they'll qualify for the tournament?

Yes, I do. I certainly hope so. But the greater problem is when we get there. We just don't have enough players to choose from partly because anyone can play in England. I don't know how we can change that or whether a quota of British players in each side is the way forward. I'm not sure what the situation is with Roy Hodgson now but I remember one time that Fabio Capello had just 94 players to chose from in the leagues, and you don't win a World Cup with such a small pool of talent. How can we realistically expect to win the tournament? Sure, we have some very good players, some even world class but we need more.

Is Roy Hodgson the right man to lead England?

He's a good coach, I like him. He also seems to know what he wants - he's quite clear about that - and he's slowly building the squad he believes will threaten the big teams at the World Cup. But it's daft to say that everything's going to be right with the England team in Brazil if we qualify.

Is Jack Wilshere the star man, the player that can inspire England to World Cup success?

I think he's still a little bit young and I genuinely think it's too soon for him on the world stage. Arsenal have a lot of good players and he's one of them. But he's not quite right yet, not quite the finished article, it seems to me. Jack Wilshere is a great player but there are lots of great players in the world, some performing even better.

Wayne Rooney needs a good World Cup. Can he be England's talisman?

He's a great player and a great goalscorer. A lot's been written of him of late but there's still a lot to come from him.

There have been reports suggesting he's on his way out of Manchester United at the end of the season?

I've got a pretty good ear at the club and, although I can't pretend to know everything that's going on, I've not heard anything about that and don't see that happen. In fact, I can't see any way in which he would be allowed to move on. Wayne is a key player to Manchester United. He scores great goals but there's so much more to him. He can be the heartbeat of the team. He just needs one of those good runs. But I don't see anyway he won't be at Manchester United next season.

What about Cristiano Ronaldo? He recently returned to the club with Real Madrid. Any chance he could make the switch back?

You always want the great players in your side. He's just that and he's taken his game to a new level in Spain. But he's not our player anymore, he's at Real Madrid and we have to respect that. He loves this club and, who knows, he might see fit to come back. Obviously he would be welcome but it's wrong to talk about him really in that sense as he's not our player.

What do you make of Man Utd's season? Obviously the club are running away with the league but the Champions League exit was a disappointment...

Manchester United have been phenomenal in the league once more and that's all thanks to Sir Alex Ferguson, the greatest manager there has ever been. The Champions League was a disappointment and I know how hard it hit him. Those results really hurt him, that's the passion he has for this great football club.

Can you see him retiring at the end of the season or does he still have unfinished business?

He'll be here for all time. He lives and breathes this football club. I've certainly not had any indication from him that he's about to step down from his position. He loves the game, he's a fantastic manager and he's got so much more to win.