Duncan Edwards, 1st October 1936 – 21st February 1958. Sir Matt Busby described Edwards as “the most complete footballer in Britain- possibly the world.” So often we hear the word ‘legend’ said so freely but you, Duncan Edwards, truly deserved that tag.
He was one of those players that deserved every accolade he got and played the game in such a way that people could only say good things about this great man. From the early days it was said that he was destined to become a footballer- and a great one at that. His name will forever be associated with Manchester United and the Busby Babes. Amazingly the club was badly in debt in the 1940s and they were unable to afford what were expensive players in those days. Edwards was pivotal in the scheme of recruiting young players and so he made his debut for the first team at just the age of 16- three years later he made his 100th appearance for United! If modern day footballers took a step back from their millions for one second then they should consider this: Edwards was on £15 a week during the season.
Had the tragic Munich air crash not happened then Edwards could easily have been England’s no.1 footballer. At Manchester United the club has been graced by many world-class players in almost every era but Edwards is arguably the best of the lot. When people see great players the qualities they see in them are rare, and separate them from others. Edwards had powerful strength, distribution and passing of the ball that was unique and a shot that was strike fear in to the opponents. In addition to this it seemed that every one of his talents was God given, making him look a natural. His size, balance, speed and courage were unique.
Sir Bobby Charlton, who was Edwards’ best friend, played against or with Pele, George Best and Denis Law and yet to him Edwards was the king. He said: “Duncan was incomparable. He was such a talent I always felt inferior to him. I feel terrible trying to explain to people just how good he was, his death was the biggest single tragedy ever to happen to Manchester United and English football.” All of the famous names in football clearly loved him at the time and the emotion of what people have to say about him puts in to context just what kind of a footballer and man he was.
In the mid-50s when Edwards was playing beyond his years, he was crucial to helping United claim their two league crowns and played 36 times in the season of 1956-57, whilst scoring six goals in the campaign. Unsurprisingly his performances for United earnt him an England call up and, from a defensive position on the field, he still managed to score five times in only 18 games. It is claimed that had he been able to play in the 1966 World Cup team he, rather than Bobby Moore, would have been lifting the cup.
The Munich tragedy may have happened on February 6th 1958, but Edwards bravely fought for his life for a further fortnight, but eventually passed away from all the terrible injuries he had suffered from the plane crash. Just a mere mention of his name today continues to get people talking and respect the man. People who saw him regard him as the best they ever saw.
Edwards was born in Dudley, in the Midlands, and he was commemorated in a special way. Inside a church in Dudley stands a stained glass window- what a unique memorial to a great footballer and human being. It was just not meant to be for those who lost their life in the tragedy but Duncan Edwards was such a man, with such a presence, that he has us talking and marveling about him today.
Are there any older fans with long lasting memories of Edwards?
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