Football

Man United's Munich air crash still haunts McGuinness 60 years on

Not a day goes by that Wilf McGuinness doesn't think of the friends and teammates he lost when the Munich air crash ripped the heart out of Manchester United's "Busby Babes".

The disaster, 60 years ago this week, killed eight of the young, vibrant side who had won successive league titles and left manager Matt Busby fighting for his life.

The events of Feb 6, 1958 are woven into the fabric of the club, who recovered to become the first English team to lift the European Cup 10 years later on a deeply emotional night at Wembley.

McGuinness, now 80, was not on the plane - which crashed on the third take-off attempt in terrible weather conditions - because he was injured.

The ill-fated aircraft was bringing the team back via Munich from Belgrade after they had reached the European Cup semi-finals. Twenty-three people died in total.

"You think of the ones who went, you don't think of yourself escaping or not going on the trip," says McGuinness, who was in hospital following a cartilage operation when he heard the terrible news.

"I was thinking how great they were, it will never ever stay out of my mind. It is the No. 1 thing that remains with me.

"They were extra special and so young when they died... unbelievable...

"They would have been the best-ever United team, in fact they were the best ever. They would have won everything.

"But then the crash happened and eight were killed and two never played again. It was a very difficult time, even now," he adds with tears welling in his eyes.

United, featuring the likes of Bobby Charlton and George Best, with Busby still in charge, famously lifted the European Cup at Wembley in 1968.

A special ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the disaster will take place at Old Trafford today, with survivors Charlton and Harry Gregg, and ex-manager Sir Alex Ferguson among former players and staff members expected to attend. - AFP

Football