Ashley Young pays heartfelt tribute on 60th anniversary of Munich Air Disaster

by Leo Nieboer

Ashley Young has paid a heartfelt tribute to those who lost their lives 60 years ago today in the Munich Air Disaster.

The Busby Babes, flying back from Belgrade having just reached the semi-finals of the European Cup, crashed as their plane made a failed attempt to take off from Munich after refuelling.

Eight players, three members of the coaching staff, eight journalists and two other passengers – a travel agent and a close friend of Sir Matt Busby – all passed away, leaving an indelible impact on the club, city, and footballing world in general.

And Young has taken to social media to pay his respects to those who lost their lives and were affected by the events of that horrible day.

“The Munich Air Disaster is something I was always aware of growing up but in truth I didn’t understand its influence on Manchester United until I joined the club,” he wrote on Twitter.

“The lows of February 1958 that ultimately led to the highs of Wembley 1968 are inspiring to every player that has the honour to pull on the United shirt.

“Today we remember and mourn but we must also take inspiration from the response to the tragedy and people like Sir Bobby Charlton. It’s a privilege for all of us to still have him around and active at Manchester United.

“You still sing about Sir Matt Busby and about playing football ‘the Busby way’. We have a duty to keep that spirit alive and keep making you proud to support this team.”

Supporters have flocked to Manchesterplatz in Munich in a show of solidarity to commemorate the victims of the crash.

The older generations have always reminded us of just how good that team was. They were admired throughout the country as the masters of the beautiful game, a true delight to watch. Not just a team but an institution of brilliance – an example to the rest of the country of what team sport can be, of what the trust in youth and expression on the pitch can produce.

Busby inherited a club on its feet in 1945 and, in the space of a decade, carefully moulded the finest team in the country, and possibly Europe, only to have it destroyed again.

Nobody would have blamed him for walking away. But the Scot refused to lie down; he would not be beaten. Another decade later, his team were European champions.

And that spirit of resurgence, to never lie down and always move forward, is what has driven this club to being the biggest in the world today, and defined its very identity.

But the events of that day and what followed don’t just teach us a lesson about Man United; they remind us of the unbreakable human spirit, our ability to rise from the rubble and keep going.

We should never forget the 21 who lost their lives that day. But we should also never forget that even the worst imaginable situations can, in time, be used to grow stronger.

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