Legends: Jackie Blanchflower

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By Worried Turkey.

One person who survived Munich but never to play again was the great Jackie Blanchflower. Jackie played for Manchester United from 1951; he had a nickname of ‘twiggy’ by his teammates and was renowned for his versatility. Initially, he played many games as a forward, but Matt Busby recognised his intelligent positioning sense and aerial power and chose to play him at centre-half. He scored 27 goals during his time at the club.

Munich was a sad farewell to Jackie – he was severely injured suffering from a fractured pelvis, arms (right arm nearly severed) & legs and crushed kidneys. He spent two months in hospital and was read the last rites in the early days, but survived. He tried to return to football, but never made a full recovery. Doctors advised him not to return to football due to fears he would damage his kidney. A year later Blanchflower retired from football. The Munich air disaster had ended his short career at the age of just 24, having earned 12 caps for Northern Ireland.

He was the younger brother of Dennis ‘Danny’ Blanchflower, the captain of the Tottenham Hotspur side, which dominated English football in the early 1960s. Although his brother went on to win awards and recognition, Jackie was the better player. After Jackie retired from football, he went on to other things but never really came to terms with being finished at such a young age… Occasionally I saw Jackie at Old Trafford, but his eyes no longer had the same sparkle from his playing days, when he would run on to the pitch, stand and look around at the crowd – he knew he belonged…

There is one statement he made I’d like to share,” while some people may think about it each February, I have had to live with it every day since.” and live with it he did… He was another youngster who we never saw the full potential of… I was lucky to see some of it… Once seen never forgotten.

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