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Ten Things You Should Know About...Sir Matt Busby
A true legend of football, Sir Matt Busby built Manchester United up until they were known the World over. Revered and loved, the visionary Scot transformed English football.
So how much do you know about Sir Matt? Well here are ten things that you should know:
#1. A proud Scot he was born in the village of Orbiston (now part of Bellshill) in Lanarkshire, Scotland on 26 May 1909 as Alexander Matthew Busby. His father was a miner but would die a soldier on The Somme.
#2. At the height of the Sixties United were often unplayable. Busby crafted a team that held within it some of the all time greats including Law and Charlton. But it was the mercurial George Best that dazzled brightest. Busby commented that "It was a very simple team talk. All I used to say was: 'Whenever possible, give the ball to George'".
Despite some turbulent times the respect was mutual.
#3. Although so associated with Manchester United Busby played for both their great rivals :Manchester City and Liverpool. For City he played 204 times between 1928 and 1936; For Liverpool 115 times between 1936 and 1941.
#4 He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory the Great in 1972 by the Pope. Previously he had become a Knight Bachelor in 1968 and a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1958.
#5. During the Second World War Busby served in the Army Physical Training Corps. It was a direct result of coaching an Army football team that involved Jimmy Murphy that lead to him becoming Busby’s assistant at Old Trafford.
#6.On 29 May 1968 Busby’s dream was fulfilled. At the spiritual home of football, Wembley, he guided Manchester united to European Cup glory. Goals from Best, Charlton, Kidd thundered United to their historic 4-1 triumph over Portuguese giants Benfica.
For Busby it was the culmination of his vision and determination to take Manchester United to the pinnacle of football. The poignancy of such a triumph coming a decade after the awful tragedy of Munich was deep.
Busby also won the League five times(1951-52; 55-56;56-57;64-65;66-67), whilst the FA Cup was secured twice (1948;1963) He also won the Cup as a player with Manchester City in 1934.
#7. Busby managed United in 1120 games from1 October 1945 to 4 June 1969. He won 565, lost 292, drew 263. During those matches 2286 goals were scored and 1536 conceded. He returned, following the unsuccessful spell of, for a further 21 games from 29 December 1970 to 8 June 1971. 11 games were won, 3 were drawn, and 7 lost. A further 38 goals were scored and 30 conceded.
#8. Following the Munich Air Crash of 6 February 1958 Busby was hospitalised for nine weeks. He had the last rites read to him on two occasions so severe were his injuries. Busby was eventually to die of cancer on 20 January 1994 at the Alexandra Hospital, Cheadle.All football mourned his passing. He is buried in Manchester’s Southern Cemetry.
#9. Busby loved football, beautiful, exciting and attacking football. He said “At United we strive for perfection, if we fail we might just have to settle for excellence.”
#10. A mark of Sir Matt's popularity and longevity came in May 1971. Thirteen years after first being the subject of This Is Your Life he was honoured again. He was the first person ever to be selected twice.
And here’s one more to make it a football eleven:
#11. Football is nothing if not partisan. Rivalries can be fierce and often bitter. But Sir Matt Busby was loved and respected by the whole football family. Not convinced? Then just take a look at what his great friend, and equally great manager of arch rivals Liverpool said:
"I'm not fit to polish Busby's shoes."