Manchester United players need to remember the legacy of those affected by the Munich air disaster because the aftermath of the tragedy is part of what makes the club great, Ryan Giggs said on the 55th anniversary on Wednesday.
United’s current players, including new striker Robin van Persie, recently watched a DVD about the crash, in which 23 people died as the squad, supporters and journalists returned from a European Cup match in Belgrade.
Eight players and three members of the United staff were among those who died after their plane crashed as it tried to take off following a refuelling stop in Munich.
“New players, especially the foreign players, are joining a club which they think is great and offers them everything that comes from United being successful over the last 10 to 15 years,” Giggs told the club website (www.manutd.com).
“We all watched a DVD about Munich recently. It was really important for the squad to watch that and learn about what happened. Not only about the crash itself but also the success they had before it and how the team moved forward in the aftermath, from winning the next game to winning the European Cup 10 years later. Everyone was moved.”
The Premier League leaders also listened to a talk by Bobby Charlton, who survived the crash along with manager Matt Busby, who had to quickly rebuild a team amid the grief.
“I think it’s very important, to know how the Busby Babes played and how successful they were before the air disaster and to know how Sir Matt built another great team,” added the 39-year-old Giggs, who has been at United since 1987.
“There are so many things that are relevant to us today and we need to carry on their legacy. For example, fans want to see young players coming through and doing well which they do on a regular basis at this club, and both as individuals and as a team, we have to play in the right manner.”
Despite Giggs’s long association with the club and the many Munich memorial services he has attended, the DVD taught him new elements of the story which have inspired the midfielder as United, nine points clear, hone in on a 20th top-flight title.
“There were things I didn’t know about the crash. I didn’t know how soon United played again afterwards, just 13 days later, and that players like Bill Foulkes and Harry Gregg who survived the crash were in the team. I thought that was unbelievable,” he said.
With a Champions League last-16 clash with Real Madrid in the next two months, United’s jet-setting squad were reminded that technology was very different in Busby’s day.
“Now if we’re playing in a big game like a Champions League semi-final, we’ll watch videos and know everything about the opposition. Everything. Then I think Sir Matt would go on one scouting mission and that would be it,” Giggs said.
“Once Sir Matt went to watch Real Madrid and when he came back, his players asked him what they were like. He didn’t want to tell them because Real Madrid were that good.”
Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images