A future filled with promise: The Busby Babes of 1958

Sir Matt Busby's seemingly invincible Manchester United side line up before the European Cup quarter final against the Yugoslav capital's Red Star club that would see them into the sem-finals, with a 3-3 draw.

It was the biggest night of their lives – but within 24 hours five of the Busby Babes would be dead and others so badly injured and traumatised that they would never play football in the same way again.

This image, taken in Belgrade on 5 February 1958, now hangs on the wall of the Manchester United dressing room at the team's Carrington training ground, and for millions of fans still symbolises the sense of loss that surrounded the events of 40 years ago.

1 Duncan Edwards

Died at Munich, aged 21. Towered above all other members of the Busby Babes, and clung on to life for 13 days after the crash.

2 Eddie Colman

Died at Munich, aged 21. Was still working as an army signaller at Catterick Barracks in Yorkshire when he made his debut soon after his 19th birthday. What he lacked in stature, at 5ft 7ins, the wing-half made up for in skill. They called him "snakehips" after his inimitable body swerve – and his understanding with Edwards bordered on the telepathic.

3 Mark Jones

Died at Munich, aged 24. Widely acknowledged as one of the best headers of a ball in the history of English football after giving up his bricklaying career to join Busby's United. Until the crash, the centre half's long-awaited England call-up was rumoured to be imminent.

4 Kenny Morgans

Survived, now aged 68. Still traumatised by the crash, he left hospital in Munich in late March, and within a few weeks was pressed to play again for the depleted Manchester United, though his legs still felt "like matchsticks" during his comeback against Wolves reserves. The youngest player involved in the crash, Morgans was never the same again: after two unhappy years at United, he left for his home town team, Swansea, moved to Newport in 1964 and retired in 1970 after three years as Cwmbran Town player/manager. "I didn't really care any more. I missed the boys," he recalled.

5 Bobby Charlton

Survived, now aged 70. Manchester United board director since 1984, Charlton was only two years into his first team career before the crash occurred. Later, he became seen as a symbol of the indomitable spirit which saw the club lift the European Cup inside 10 years. His two goals in that 1968 final were among 249 for United, for whom he has played more times than any other player. Sir Bobby, as he is now known, was knighted in 1994.

6 Dennis Viollet

Survived crash but lost fight with cancer, aged 65, in March 1999. One of the best-loved United players of all, despite almost signing for Manchester City, his 32 league goals in a season just two years after Munich remains a club record. Viollet was, surprisingly, transferred to Stoke City for £22,000 in 1962 and eventually emigrated to the US where he coached several sides before his death there.

7 Tommy Taylor

Died at Munich, aged 26. Signed from his home town club, Barnsley, by Busby for a world record £29,999 in March 1953 (Busby had not wanted him to be saddled with the pressure of being the first £30,000 footballer so, the story goes, he gave the other pound to a tea lady). Indomitable at centre forward, Taylor was seen as a natural replacement for Nat Lofthouse in England's side until the crash occurred.

8 Billy Foulkes

Survived crash, now aged 76. Few players epitomise the different world United occupied back then more vividly. When the crash occurred, Foulkes was a part-time player, working down the mine in St Helens most of the week, and training Tuesdays and Thursdays with United. For Foulkes, returning to action soon after the crash was a financial necessity – and so it was that, still a skeletal figure with pains in his head, he acceded to stand-in manager Jimmy Murphy's pleas to take over as captain from Roger Byrne, who died. Retired in 1969, Foulkes coached United's youth team until 1975 and had spells coaching in the US, Norway and Japan. Not in the best of health, he still shows groups of fans around Old Trafford.

9 Harry Gregg

Survived crash, now aged 75. They call him "the hero of Munich" because of the way he crawled, bleeding, from the wreckage and then returned – ignoring the pleas of rescue workers – to pull passengers clear. Gregg, considered by some to be United's finest goalkeeper, saved a woman and her baby as well as team-mates. Returned to the side, though never collected a medal before leaving for Stoke in 1967 and managing Shrewsbury, Swansea and Carlisle. Now runs a hotel in his native Northern Ireland. Awarded MBE in 1995.

10 Albert Scanlon

Survived crash, now aged 72. About to sign for Arsenal when the crash occurred, leaving him with a fractured skull. Returned to the side, but did not flourish, playing another two seasons and finding himself dropped three games into the next. He never played for United again, moving to Newcastle and after that, Lincoln and Mansfield. Still struggles to talk about the events of 1958.

11 Roger Byrne

Died at Munich, aged 28. Busby's captain won three championship medals, and had played 33 times for England before he lost his life, two days short of his 29th birthday. A natural leader of men, the full back had switched to rugby during his war years in the RAF, after he was not deemed good enough at football. His wife, Joy, gave birth to their only child eight months after his death.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor