Manchester United stars and legends including David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand and Sir Alex Ferguson pay tribute to Munich Air Disaster victims on 60-year anniversary

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Manchester United stars and legends including David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand and Sir Alex Ferguson pay tribute to Munich Air Disaster victims on 60-year anniversary

MANCHESTER UNITED stars past and present have been paying tribute to those who died 60 years ago today in the Munich Air Disaster.

The plane crash at the German airport killed 23, including eight players and three members of the club’s staff.

A Manchester United fan with "Munich 58 Never Forget" on the back of his shirt pays tribute to the tragedyA Manchester United fan with “Munich 58 Never Forget” on the back of his shirt pays tribute to the tragedySWNS:South West News Service A fan lays flowers outside Old Trafford as the club marks the 60th anniversary of the Munich Air DisasterA fan lays flowers outside Old Trafford as the club marks the 60th anniversary of the Munich Air DisasterSWNS:South West News Service

It is rightly regarded as one of the darkest days in English football, with the core of one of the greatest young teams in history tragically taken away from fans, their families and the footballing world.

United always mark the occasion with dignified ceremonies and touching tributes, but given it is the 60th anniversary, February 4 has taken on extra significance this year.

Legendary youngster Duncan Edwards was the biggest talent lost to the disaster.

The Birmingham-born player would undoubtedly have fired club and country to even more glory than they have today.

Manchester United played a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade when they stopped in MunichManchester United played a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade when they stopped in MunichPA:Empics Sport The Munich Air Disaster outside Old Trafford is a reminder of what United lost The Munich Air Disaster outside Old Trafford is a reminder of what United lostSWNS:South West News Service United paid tribute to the 'Flowers of Manchester' ahead of their home match with Huddersfield on SaturdayUnited paid tribute to the ‘Flowers of Manchester’ ahead of their home match with Huddersfield on SaturdayPA:Press Association Manchester United fans paid tribute to the Busby Babes at Old TraffordManchester United fans paid tribute to the Busby Babes at Old TraffordEPA The plane crashed on an icy runway at Munich AirportThe plane crashed on an icy runway at Munich AirportPA:Press Association Sir Matt Busby's fantastic young team had threatened to become one of the best teams in EuropeSir Matt Busby’s fantastic young team had threatened to become one of the best teams in EuropePA:Press Association

And the other players including Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam Whelan were all key parts of the exciting Busby Babes.

United are planning a tribute today at Old Trafford, while some members of the club are making the journey to Germany to pay tribute.

TRAPPED IN AN INFERNO Tragedy and aftermath of Munich will forever be at heart of Manchester United

The club’s website says: “On that day in 1958, the darkest day in United’s history, 23 people – including eight players and three members of the club’s staff – suffered fatal injuries in the Munich Air Disaster.

“The Munich Air Disaster is an indelible part of United’s history, as is Sir Matt overcoming his crash injuries to work alongside Jimmy Murphy and build another great team which won the European Cup 10 years later.

“We will never forget.”

We Never Forget #busbybabes ❤ @manchesterunited

A post shared by David Beckham (@davidbeckham) on Feb 5, 2018 at 11:54pm PST

Keep the red flag flying high and join me, my team-mates, the staff at the club and millions of fans around the world in remembering The Busby Babes. The Flowers of Manchester ❤ pic.twitter.com/2F1yQPHZzY

— Ashley Young (@youngy18) February 6, 2018

We Will Never Forget #BusbyBabes @ManUtd ❤ #flowersofmanchester pic.twitter.com/hP9JT4SlPn

— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) February 6, 2018

60 years on from the Munich air crash. Today we remember and pay our respects to all those we sadly lost. We will never forget. #BusbyBabes #FlowersOfManchester πŸ™πŸ»πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ pic.twitter.com/50bgF0GMRl

— Michael Carrick (@carras16) February 6, 2018

Let's never forget #FlowersOfManchester pic.twitter.com/fDOVPNYdIu

— Edwin van der Sar (@vdsar1970) February 6, 2018

We will never forget. #FlowersOfManchester pic.twitter.com/YAC0Lmqq2W

— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 6, 2018

Today we remember the tragedy of Munich. We will never forget. #FlowersOfManchester pic.twitter.com/ffHCCDYz7r

— Antonio Valencia (@anto_v25) February 6, 2018

Always Remembered #FlowersOfManchester #60Years #Munich @ManUtd ❤ pic.twitter.com/Ttlh1ukRCm

— Danny Webber 🐝 (@DanielWebber81) February 6, 2018

Never Forgotten. #FlowersOfManchester pic.twitter.com/Pca8AwXGuS

— Daley Blind (@BlindDaley) February 6, 2018

We will never forget. #FlowersOfManchester pic.twitter.com/rIGTwvrcmQ

— Victor LindelΓΆf (@vlindelof) February 6, 2018

The Scottish manager Sir Matt Busby survived the crash and went on to manage United to the European Cup a decade later.

The ‘Flowers of Manchester’ are a group of players always remembered by Old Trafford stars past and present and today is no different.

Current stars including Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Michael Carrick have been tweeting their thoughts, as have Stretford End legends like Andy Cole and Edwin van der Sar.

How disaster unfolded on the frozen runway

Manchester United had just played a 3-3 draw with Red Star Belgrade, winning 5-4 on aggregate to qualify for the European Cup semi-finals. The plane was on its way back to Manchester and had to stop in Munich to re-fuel. Two attempts had been made to take off but were aborted and the plane was once emptied before they re-boarded once again. The plane, the Lord Burghley, failed to take off due to slush at one end of the runway meaning the plane could not gather sufficient speed to get airborne. After failing to take off, the plane hit a fence and then a house, while it broke into pieces. 20 players, staff and journalists died at the scene, while the rest were rushed to Rechts der Isar Hospital in Munich. Three more, including young star player Duncan Edwards, died in hospital. Manchester United players killed: Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam ‘Billy’ Whelan. Staff killed: Walter Crickmer (secretary), Tom Curry (trainer) and Bert Whalley (chief coach). Journalists killed: Alf Clarke, Donny Davies, George Follows, Tom Jackson, Archie Ledbrooke, Henry Rose, Frank Swift and Eric Thompson. Others: Bela Miklos (travel agent), Willie Satinoff (friend of Matt Busby). Harry Gregg was dubbed the ‘Hero of Munich’ after pulling some of his team-mates including Bobby Charlton, Jackie Blanchflower and Dennis Violet, from the wreckage.

πŸ”΅ #ACityUnited πŸ”΄

A post shared by Manchester City (@mancity) on Feb 6, 2018 at 1:03am PST

Always remembered, never forgotten. #FlowersOfManchester

A post shared by Luke Shaw (@lukeshaw23) on Feb 6, 2018 at 12:57am PST

60 years ago today, but never forgotten. #flowersofmanchester

A post shared by Liverpool Football Club (@liverpoolfc) on Feb 6, 2018 at 1:01am PST

Sir Alex Ferguson on the Munich Air Disaster

On the day of the Munich Air Disaster, I was in the library studying for my exams.

I used to train two or three nights a week with Queen’s Park, so after I’d finished my work I went along to the training ground, but when I arrived, people were crying. These were grown men.

There was a lot of sorrow in the dressing room, so much so that they cancelled training that night. It was a really emotional time for anybody who was a football fan.

I’m sure the whole public in Manchester felt that way, and Matt Busby carried great resonance for the people in Scotland, so it was keenly felt up there, too.

I’d seen Manchester United play in the Coronation Cup in 1953. It was held in Glasgow to mark the Queen’s coronation, and it featured four English teams and four Scottish teams.

I went to watch United against Rangers. The bulk of the United side was made of the remnants of the 1948 FA Cup-winning team – the likes of Jack Rowley, Stan Pearson, Jack Crompton – but at outside-left there was Roger Byrne, and soon the team was full of young players like Roger.

Not long after that, not only were you drawn to the fact that Matt Busby was manager, you were attracted to the fact that the Busby Babes were suddenly in the semi-finals of the European Cup against Real Madrid.

They didn’t disgrace themselves at all, either; they were absolutely brilliant, and that was their first experience of Europe.

The philosophy and belief of producing young players to play for Manchester United was a big thing at the time.

The team which won the 1948 FA Cup final was mature, there were no kids in there, but seven years later Matt and Jimmy Murphy had a formation of all these young players playing together.

It takes a brave person to do that. You’re in an industry where it’s all about the results, and that’s why most managers have to rely on their first team to keep them in a job, and there’s absolutely no compunction about that; it’s a fact of life.

To build a football club through young people is the braver thing to do, and actually it’s the correct thing to do because once you’ve got a foundation, then you can rely on that for a few years.

Matt never spoke to me about Munich, but he spoke about Duncan Edwards, David Pegg, Eddie Colman and all the boys who passed away.

The one who did speak a lot about it was Jimmy Murphy. Jimmy did a bit of scouting for me and he always spoke very openly about the Babes.

He always had a tear in his eye by the end of the discussion because he was a very emotional guy.

While I was Manchester United manager, the Babes were always a reference point for us, in terms of having belief and trust in what young players can do and building a loyalty base from there.

Not only that, the Babes made the history of Manchester United, without question.

Okay, there had been the 1948 FA Cup and some success in the distant past, but actually the history which was made through that particular period of Matt playing those young players is really the history of Manchester United.

A decade on, Matt won the European Cup while playing the same philosophy, using players who had been produced by the club, apart from Paddy Crerand and Alex Stepney [who had been transferred into the club]. It’s incredible.

The Babes are what gives this club such a fantastic romance, in terms of how they played the game and how they generated this thread of youth throughout the club. The spirit of the club is created by all these young players, and that began back then.

Ferguson was speaking to ManUtd.com

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