May 26th is a day all Manchester United fans should celebrate for two reasons, the first one being the birth of Sir Matt Busby and secondly being the day United completed The Treble.
Sir Matt Busby was born on 26th May 1909, born Alexander Matthew Busby in Orbiston, North Lanarkshire to Lithuanian emigrant parents Alexander and Nellie Busby. When Busby was born the doctor told his mother
“A Footballer Has Come Into This House Today”
Busby’s father was a miner, he was called up to serve in World War I, being killed by a sniper’s bullet on April 27th 1917 at the Battle of Arras. Busby would often accompany his father down the coal pits, his dream though was to be a professional footballer. Busby described himself as being football mad. Aged 18 Busby signed for Manchester City on a one-year contract worth £5 per week on 11th February 1928. He made his debut for City on November 2nd 1929, playing at inside left in 3-1 win at home against Middlesbrough in the First Division. Busby was sold to Liverpool for £8,000 on March 12th 1936, having made 204 appearances for City.
Busby made his debut for Liverpool on March 14th 1936 in a 1-0 defeat away to Huddersfield Town. Busby soon made the Number 4 jersey his one at Anfield. He would go on to make 115 appearances foe Liverpool between 1936 and 1941 when the Second World War Arrived. Like many of the Liverpool playing staff Busby signed on for national service with King’s Liverpool Regiment.
Despite having played for Manchester City and Liverpool, Busby was appointed the Manchester United manager on February 19th 1945 but didn’t officially take over until October 1st. Busby led United to Fa Cup success in 1948 and won the League Championship in 1952 after finishing runners-up in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951. However by 1952, his side captained by Johnny Carey was starting to show its age. Busby gradually replaced the older players with players as young as 16 and 17. Some of these included Bill Foulkes, Mark Jones, David Pegg and Duncan Edwards.
1956 having guided United to another title, Busby was offered the Real Madrid managers job. Told by the then Real Madrid President, the role was “like managing paradise”. Busby responded by saying “Manchester is my heaven”. Busby and his team suffered the Munich Air Crash in 1958. After the crash Busby set about building a new team around Munich survivors Harry Gregg, Bobby Charlton and Bill Foulkes. They were League Champions again in 1965 and 1967. The biggest success for Busby and United came with the European Cup win with a 4-1 win over Benfica at Wembley Stadium on May 29th 1968. This was the Holy Grail for Busby and culmination of years of hard work. Busby retired at the end of the following season.
He remained at the club as a director for 11 years before being made the Club President in 1982. Busby was awarded the CBE in 1958 and was Knighted following the European Cup success in 1968. Busby was a regular at Old Trafford until the end of his life and present on the day when United finally won the League Championship again after a 26 year wait at the end of the 1992/93 season. Busby died of cancer aged 84 on January 20th 1994.
On May 26th 1999 Manchester United completed the treble of Premier League, Fa Cup and European Cup with a 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the Nou Camp, Barcelona on what would have been Sir Matt Busby’s 90th Birthday.
Read about that momentous night in Barcelona here.
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