Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton was honoured at the annual Laureus World Sports Awards on Monday, winning the Lifetime Achievement Award 54 years on from the Munich Air disaster.
However, the World Cup winner was unable to attend the ceremony after being taken ill prior to the event.
The 74-year-old is United's second highest ever appearance maker and captained the club to the European Cup in 1968, the club's first success in Europe’s premier club competition.
"Sir Bobby Charlton was unable to receive the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award in person at the Laureus World Sports Awards in London on Monday evening," a Laureus statement read.
"Sir Bobby felt unwell on Sunday and returned to Manchester earlier today for minor surgery."
Sir Alex Ferguson, collecting the award on behalf of Charlton, added: "Sir Bobby is fine, but it was felt he should go back to Manchester. He is very annoyed not to be here to receive this Award.
"I'll be taking the statuette back to Old Trafford for him. He loves the work he does for Laureus and I know how delighted he is to have received this tribute.
"It was already a very emotional night for Bobby. This is the 54th anniversary of the Munich air disaster, when we lost eight of our young players.
"Through that time, Bobby has kept his fantastic humility, and that makes him very special to me.
"Manchester United is Bobby's life. He came to the club as a 15-year-old boy and he's been with us ever since - he is one of our ambassadors now.
"In my own 25 years at the club, Bobby has supported every step I've taken. At the beginning, they were very small steps. Later, they became big steps. But without his support, I don't know where I'd have been."
The honour follows winning the 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award, which marked half a century since the disaster in Munich.
Since the climax to his playing days, Charlton has immersed himself in numerous charitable organisations and is a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Charlton is the latest former footballer to have the honour bestowed on him following Zinedine Zidane in 2011, Johan Cruyff in 2006 and Pele in 2000.