M.E.N Duncan Edwards Tribute
The Following Article was in the Manchester Evening news on October 1st 1996
It was written by Paul Hince chief sports writer, and is reproduced without permission.....

"Sixtieth Birthday Tribute to a victim of Munich"

Edwards was THE greatest

The words in the record books are cold and factual. Duncan Edwards. Born Dudley, worcs, October 1st, 1936. Died Munich, Germany, Febuary 21st, 1958.

Between those two dates lie 21 years, four months and 20 days. Not a great span of time for anyone to make his mark on the world.

But Duncan Edwards wasn't anyone. Duncan Edwards was unique. When he died at the age of only 21 as a result of injuries recieved in the Munich air disasterhe was already a soccer legend.

In the fabulous Manchester United team so cruelly destroyed at Munich airport in February 1958 he was the star of stars. In many people's eyes he was THE greatest player ever to pull on the famous red shirt. Others will go further and claim that Duncan Edwards was THE greatest English footballer of all time.

And time will never diminish the memory of the young giant from Dudleywho, had he survived the horrors of Munich, would today be celebrating his 60th birthday.

The carrer details of the player known simply as "Big Dunc" give some indication of a massive talent which, for a few short glorious years, shone like a beacon over English and International soccer.

After representing his country for two years at youth level, the strapping 16-year-old wing-half had nine first division clubs competeing for his signature as he reached the end of his school days in Dudley.

On the night of his 16th birthday, Duncan and his were woken up at 2am by a pounding at the front door.

The youngsters bedroom door opened and, still half asleep, he came face to face with Matt Busby who had driven through the night to sign him for Manchester United.

As Edwards himself was later to recall ,you don't say "no" to Matt Busby - particulaly when it's two in the morning and you've still got sleep in your eyes.

And so, in June 1952, Duncan Edwards became the newest member of the "Busby Babes" who were soon to household names whereever the game of Soccer was played.

His progress as a Manchester United player was phenomenal. He made his senoir debut against Cardiff Citywhen he was still 16 and still on amateur forms.

Signed as a full time professional on his 17th Birthday, he became a regular first-team player during season 1953-54 when he took over at left-half from Henry Cockburn.

He was quickly selected for the England "B" side, made six appearances for England's U-23 team and, by the time of his tragic death, had already won 15 full England caps, making his senior international debut against Scotland at the age of 18 years and 183 days.

By the time he reached his 21st birthday, he had also represented the Football league on six occasions, won two League championships, an FA Cup finalists medaland three FA Youth cup winners medals.

At 21 years of age, Edwards had achived more in soccer than most players can only dream about.

And one can only guess what heights his career would have reached but for that dreadful day at Munich Airport which is still etched in grief into the heart of the city of Manchester.

Perhaps most tragically of all, it seemed at firstas though this young giant of a man was going to recover from the dreadful injuries he recieved as the plane carrying the united team crashed on takeover in the ice and slush which blanketed the runways at Munich Airport. The doctors who treated him in the nearby hospital were amazed at his brute strength and determination to live.

Sadly, almost two weeks after the dreadful crash, he became the eighth United player to lose his life at Munich.

The news was the last devastating blow for a club and a city still trying to come to terms with the awful tragedy.

Wilf McGuinness, one of the younger players at United at the time and a future Old Trafford manager, vividly recalls the moment when the news reached the club that Edwards had died.

"We were still in a state of shock and grieving for the players who had not survived the actual crash," he says.

"When we heard he had passed away, it seemed like the end of everything. The grief and dispair were overpowering.

"I had followed him into the England youth team and then to Old Trafford and we struck up a very close friendship right from the moment I arrived.

"It is hard to explain to the kids of today what kind of footballer Duncan was.

"For a starthe was massive. He had huge thighs and a great barrel chest. In physical terms he was a man by the time he was 16.

"But for a big man he was amazingly nimble and light on his feet. Try to imagine a combination of Bryan Robson and Roy Keane only far more powerful and you get some idea of what dunc was like as a player.

"There was only one Duncan Edwards - and there will never be another."

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