Today marks the 58th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster: the defining moment in the history of Manchester United.
After defeating Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup, Sir Matt Busby's 'Babes' were flying home via Munich, where their aircraft stopped to refuel. After two aborted takeoff attempts, the plane crashed in heavy snow. 23 people sustained fatal injuries, including eight United players. Their average age was just 24.
Manager Matt Busby was given only a 50 per cent chance of surviving the crash, though pulled through and oversaw a decade-long process of rebuilding. The story of the club's phoenix-like rise inspired support around the world, and many of United's dearest traditions were forged in the face of the terrible adversity.
Perhaps the most enduring legacy of the incident is United's constant desire to give youth its chance, just as Busby did in forging the Busby Babes; and just as he did in ensuring the club itself did not perish on the Munich tarmac. It's partly why the breakthroughs of Jesse Lingard, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and their long line of predecessors are always worth celebrating. In an era in which clubs are increasingly becoming identikit corporate shells, it's the core of United's unique identity.
Of course, the anniversary is a day to acknowledge those who were not as fortunate as Busby; but who nevertheless have left an indelible, eternal mark on Manchester United.
Geoff Bent, full-back; Roger Byrne, captain, full-back; Eddie Colman, wing-half; Duncan Edwards, left-half; Mark Jones, centre-half; David Pegg, outside left; Tommy Taylor, centre-forward; Billy Whelan, inside forward; Walter Crickmer, club secretary; Tom Curry, trainer; Bert Whalley, coach;
Alf Clarke, Manchester Evening Chronicle; Donny Davies, Manchester Guardian; George Follows, Daily Herald; Tom Jackson, Manchester Evening News; Archie Ledbrooke, Daily Mirror; Henry Rose, Daily Express; Frank Swift, News of the World; Eric Thompson, Daily Mail;
Captain Ken Rayment, co-pilot; Tom Cable, cabin steward;
Bela Miklos, Willie Satinoff.