RIP Harry Gregg: Former Man Utd goalkeeper and hero of Munich air disaster dies aged 87

Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Harry Gregg has died at the age of 87.

His death was announced by the Harry Gregg Foundation this morning.

“It is with great sorrow that we inform of the death of Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend Harry Gregg, OBE,” it said in a statement posted on Facebook.

“Harry passed away peacefully in hospital surrounded by his loving family.”

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His actions during the Munich air disaster will never be forgotten as he returned to the burning fuselage twice to drag team-mates and strangers to safety.

Gregg showed a degree of bravery and selflessness throughout his football career and life.

It goes without saying that had he not been on the BEA Flight 609 on 6 February 1958, or not survived the ill-fated take-off, the death toll of 23 would have been higher. He helped save a 20-month old baby, as well as her pregnant mother, Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet.

Of those who were on the Munich flight, only Gregg and Bill Foulkes wore the jersey in that emotional fixture less than two weeks later.

Tragedy was something Gregg has to deal with a lot in his life, even after the Munich air disaster. He lost his first wife Mavis to cancer, and again when daughter Karen was claimed by the disease in 2009.

As a teenager he had stints at Linfield’s reserve team and Coleraine before being snapped up by Doncaster, where he enjoyed five years before Matt Busby made him the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, signing Gregg for £23,000.

Gregg went on to spend nine years at Old Trafford and lived to tell the tale about a young George Best cleaning his boots.

United gave Gregg his testimonial match in 2012 when Sir Alex Ferguson brought a full-strength squad to Windsor Park to face an Irish League XI.

Gregg, who should have been knighted a long ago, leaves behind five children, including four with second wife Carolyn.

Our thoughts are with Gregg’s family and friends at this time.

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