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Remembering Harry Gregg, the 'Hero of Munich'

Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg, who survived the 1958 Munich air disaster, has died at the age of 87.

Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg
Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg ©Getty Images

Harry Gregg, hailed as a hero after pulling his surviving Manchester United team-mates and other passengers from burning wreckage at the 1958 Munich air disaster, has passed away aged 87.

Despite the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper's act of personal bravery, 23 passengers – including eight members of the celebrated 'Busby Babes' team – perished when their plane crashed on take-off. The team had stopped over in Munich on their return from a European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-final tie against Crvena zvezda in Yugoslavia.

"It is with deepest sadness that we have learned of the passing of former player Harry Gregg, OBE," Manchester United tweeted. "The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the club go out to Harry's family and friends."

Best goalkeeper at 1958 World Cup
Within two weeks of the Munich tragedy, Gregg was back in action for United, keeping a clean sheet in an FA Cup win over Sheffield Wednesday. In the same year, he was also voted the best in his position at the FIFA World Cup in Sweden, where his performances helped Northern Ireland reach the quarter-finals. In total, Greg won 25 international caps.

Gregg joined United from Doncaster Rovers in 1957 – at the time, the £23,500 transfer fee was the highest ever paid worldwide for a goalkeeper – and he would remain with the club until 1966, making more than 200 appearances.

From 1968 to 1987, Gregg managed Carlisle, Crewe Alexandra, Shrewsbury Town and Swansea, before retiring to his homeland. In 2015, he launched a charitable foundation encouraging social inclusion for young people.