Hodgson mourns Munich ’58 victims
LONDON- Agence France-Presse
England manager Roy Hodgson remembers the victims of the Munich disaster in 1958 when almost the entire Manchester United squad was killed. REUTERS photoEngland manager Roy Hodgson took time out from prepraing his side to face Brazil in a friendly yesterday to remember the victims of the Munich air disaster.
Yesterday marked the 55th anniversary of the 1958 tragedy, which saw 23 killed when an airplane carrying Manchester United back from a game in Belgrade crashed on take-off following a refuelling stop in Munich.
Amongst those killed were eight players, including Duncan Edwards, Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor, a trio tipped for glittering careers, while United manager Matt Busby and Englad great Bobby Charlton survived.
For Hodgson, only a schoolboy at the time, the crash left a vivid impression.
“I remember that night extremely well,” said Hodgson. “I remember sitting at home as an 11-year-old and hearing the news and being absolutely devastated. So many great players, and a footballing generation in Manchester lost their lives. It is a sobering thought but it is important to remember those things.”
Alex Ferguson, the current United manager, arrived at Old Trafford in 1986 and became close to manager Busby. But long before then Ferguson, like Hodgson, had been affected by a disaster that cost the lives of so many members of a talented young side nicknamed the “Busby Babes.”
“I’ve been affected by it since I was a young boy,” Ferguson told the BBC. “For many people it is long forgotten but for someone like me, who remembers the day, you won’t forget it. It was a fantastic group of young men who were destined to be great and that was the tragedy in how it was taken away from them.”
It was largely down to Busby’s persistance that United were playing in the European Cup in 1958 against the wishes of England’s governing Football Association, something that weighed heavily on him after the crash.
Ten years later, United became the first English club to win the European Cup when Charlton and George Best inspired a 4-1 victory over Benfica in the 1968 final at Wembley.