Sir Bobby Charlton remembers the Munich Air Disaster in his own words

Sir Bobby Charlton said a day did not go by when his mind didn’t return to the Munich Air Disaster in 1958… in his own words, spoken before his 80th birthday, his memories from a fateful day which changed his life

  • Manchester United and England great Sir Bobby Charlton has died aged 86 
  • The legendary World Cup winner survived the tragic 1958 Munich Air Disaster 
  • In his own words, he recalled his state of shock and feelings of guilt and regret 

Bobby Charlton always said a day did not go by when his mind didn’t go back to the Munich air disaster in 1958, a tragedy which claimed the life of eight of the then 20-year-old’s Manchester United team-mates.

In his own words, spoken just before his 80th birthday, are a few of Charlton’s memories of that fateful day which changed his life.

Yes, it still touches me every day. Sometimes it fills me with a terrible regret and sadness – and guilt that I survived, walked away and found so much. Sometimes the moment passes very quickly, a fleeting thought, a pang of sadness and I get on with my day.

Other times it takes a greater hold. I think of the miracle of my life, the things I went on to see and do after the lads I loved so much had been taken away, and I have to believe that even miracles have a price.

For a little while, you see, football, all of life, had seemed to lose meaning. You think to yourself ‘why should it be me?’. There again, I was just lucky I happened to sit in the right place. When we got to the hospital I started ranting and raving. 

In his own words, Sir Bobby Charlton reflected back on the Munich Air Disaster in 1958

Charlton recalled being in a state of shock after the crash, with football losing its meaning

I just didn’t understand. The medical people came around and gave me an injection in the back of my neck and I just collapsed. 

I didn’t wake up until the following morning.

This German lad was there and he had a paper. He had a list of all the players and he read them out and if they were alive he would say ‘yes’ and if they were dead he said ‘no’.

I had to wait for a couple of days before I could get on the train to go home and when I was on my own I thought about it. I thought about it a lot and my personal friends were dead.

I’ve never stopped asking myself why I was able to run my hands over my body and find that I was still whole when Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Billy Whelan, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, Mark Jones and Geoff Bent lay dead and Duncan Edwards, who I loved and admired, faced an unavailing battle for his life.

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