The Munich air disaster that destroyed the famed “Busby Babes” still resonates for present Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, 60 years after the tragedy he said on Friday.
The crash killed eight of the United team and three backroom staff — 23 people in all died — who had won successive league titles and left manager Matt Busby so badly injured he was given the last rites twice.
However, he survived and rebuilt the side leading it 10 years on with an epic European Cup victory.
Though the 60th anniversary of the crash — United were returning via Munich from Belgrade after seeing off Red Star Belgrade to reach the European Cup semi-finals — falls on Tuesday, a minute’s silence will be held ahead of Saturday’s home Premier League match against Huddersfield.
“This is something that is part of my life, or part of my football culture before I become Manchester United manager and why?” said Mourinho, who sported a Munich pin badge on his eve of match press conference.
“Because it was such a tragedy that it stayed over these last 60 years.”
Mourinho said the way the club had reacted to such a huge loss and rebuilt the side illustrated what was so special about United.
“So as Manchester United manager, obviously it means much more but I think it belongs to every sportsman as one of the biggest tragedies and at the same time is a crucial point in Man United history,” said Mourinho.
“The reaction, the strength, the union after that situation and I think tomorrow is an amazing day to show the respect, to show the passion for the club, respect for them, the families and I think is a day to play well.”
The club is also holding a commemorative service at Old Trafford on Tuesday — just two of the players who survived are still alive Bobby Charlton and Harry Gregg — while around 2,000 fans are expected to travel to Munich itself.