Munich air disaster: Remembering the Busby Babes 55 years on

Members of Manchester United board the BEA Elizabethan to Belgrade.
© PA Photos
Sports Mole profiles the eight Manchester United players that lost their lives 55 years ago during the Munich air disaster.

Fifty-five years ago today, a plane crash at Munich's Riem Airport changed the history of Manchester United forever.

Their squad, dubbed the 'Busby Babes' after their manager Sir Matt Busby, had been travelling back from a European Cup tie against Partizan Belgrade when their aircraft skidded off the runway on its third take-off attempt, before smashing into a house.

The disaster claimed the lives of 23 people on board, including eight members of the 'Babes'.

Sports Mole has taken the opportunity to profile each of the footballers that lost their lives on February, 6 1958.

Geoff Bent

Age: 25

Defender Bent joined United in the summer 1948 on leaving school. The full-back spent a number of seasons honing his skills in the club's youth and reserve teams. Not normally considered a regular in the starting lineup, Bent made the trip to Belgrade as cover for Roger Byrne.

Roger Byrne

Age: 28

Such was Byrne's ability that Busby opted to select him as the team's captain. Noted for his versatility, Byrne slotted in at full-back, wing-half and outside left during his time in the United team. He won three league titles at Old Trafford, two of which he captained the team to. It was not just United who appreciated Byrne's ability, as England manager Walter Winterbottom often selected him throughout 1950s.

Eddie Colman

Age: 21

Colman broke into the United first team in 1955 and went on to make 107 appearances in a red shirt. The wing half earned himself the nickname 'snakehips' for his trademark body swerve. He scored two goals for the Red Devils, the second of which came during the European Cup quarter-final against Belgrade. Aged just 21 years and three months, Colman was the youngster person to die in the disaster.

Mark Jones

Age: 24

A strong defender, Jones was a regular in the United starting lineup from 1955 onwards. He made 103 league appearances for the club that he joined as an apprentice in 1948. Many believe that he would have received a call-up to the England squad had he not have lost his life in Munich.

Tommy Taylor

Age: 26

Having joined United in 1953 from Barnsley, Taylor went on to be one of the most prolific goalscorers in the club's history. His goalscoring exploits saw him the subject of a transfer bid worth £65,000 from Inter Milan - a world record fee. However, Busby rejected the offer. Taylor produced the same form on the international scene, scoring 16 goals in 19 outings for England.

Liam 'Billy' Whelan

Age: 22

Inside forward Whelan joined United in 1953 following a spell with Irish club Home Farm. He went on to make 98 appearances under Busby, with a goal return of 52. Whelan was also recognised by his country, making four appearances for the Republic of Ireland.

David Pegg

Age: 22

Pegg was so highly regarded at Old Trafford that he was handed his debut aged just 17. He was the club's first choice outside left for the majority of the 1950s, although he had lost his place to Albert Scanlon around the time of the disaster. He won two league titles during his career with United.

Duncan Edwards

Age: 21

Edwards didn't die at the scene, but he lost his fight for life 15 days after the crash as a result of injuries. Despite being just 21 when he died, Edwards broke numerous records during his short career. Considered by many as one of the best English players of his generation, Edwards scored five goals for his country. Sir Bobby Charlton, who survived the crash, once said this of 'Big Dunc'.

"Duncan was incomparable. He was such a talent, I always felt inferior to him. I feel terrible trying to explain to people just how good he was, his death was the biggest single tragedy ever to happen to Manchester United and English football.

"I always felt I could compare well with any player - except Duncan. He didn't have a fault with his game."

Others that died: Walter Crickmer (club secretary), Tom Curry (trainer), Bert Whalley (chief coach), Alf Clarke, Donny Davies, George Follows, Tom Jackson, Archie Ledbrooke, Henry Rose, Frank Swift, Eric Thompson (all journalists), Bela Miklos, Willie Satinoff (passengers), Captain Kenneth Rayment and Tom Cable (cabin steward).

Manchester United
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