LONDON – Manchester United held a solemn ceremony on Tuesday at Old Trafford to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster, which cost the lives of 23 people, including eight players.
The plane carrying the team back to England on Feb. 6, 1958, after a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade made a stop in Munich to refuel.
Bad weather forced the pilot to abort two attempted takeoffs from Munich Airport and the third try ended in a crash.
Seven players were pronounced dead at the scene: Geoff Bent, 25; Roger Byrne; 28; Eddie Colman; 21; Mark Jones; 24; David Pegg; 22; Tommy Taylor, 26; and Liam Whelan, 22.
Duncan Edwards, 21, hailed by many as the finest player of his generation, died 15 days later.
Three other club officials, eight journalists, two members of the flight crew, a travel agent, and a friend of United manager Sir Matt Busby also perished.
Twenty-one people survived the crash, including Busby and nine players.
Current manager Jose Mourinho and the entire United squad were present for Tuesday’s memorial, along with club executives, former coach Sir Alex Ferguson and former Red Devil greats.
A minute’s silence was held at 3:04 pm to mark the time of the accident, followed by a choral performance of “The Flowers of Manchester,” which was composed in memory of the Munich victims.
“It was very fitting. A beautiful service. Powerful, emotional,” club captain Michael Carrick told MUTV, the club’s television network. “For me, it was emotional sitting next to Sir Bobby (Charlton, one of the survivors) and coming to terms with what he’s been through. It was tough but a pleasure to be part of.”