Legends: Roger Byrne

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By Worried Turkey.

Roger Byrne – aged 28, full-back. 277 appearances, 19 goals. 33 England caps.

One of the greatest defenders in Manchester United’s history, Byrne was a father figure to the Busby Babes and tragically died alongside many of them in the Munich Air disaster. When I say no left back has come up to the standard of Roger Byrne you will probably not believe me, especially when we you think of left backs at Man United in recent years. Evra… Heinze… Irwin (close) and Dunne (what a good fullback he was!!).

It very nearly wasn’t to be though. In the 51/52 season Sir Matt played Roger on the wing (now you’ll have to take my word for it or look it up) where if I believe what my uncle told me, he apparently scored 7 goals in 6 games but wanted to play at left back, so put in a transfer request. Sir Matt realised what he would lose, reverted Roger to the left back spot where he became (what I believe) the best left back in United’s history.

Despite being just 24, the Gorton lad was tough as teak, fully committed to the game and opinionated enough to stand up to anyone, even Matt Busby. When you think of the great captains United have had i.e. Keano (not for me) Robbo… Charlton… Byrne is always the one who sticks out. Roger was so fast but at the same time he controlled his movement, he was possibly one of the first attacking fullbacks and it was really only after he was gone you realise how good he was a) as a player b) as a captain and c) as an inspirational figure and man he was. Again, I now realise what a very lucky person I have been to have seen these (were they mere mortals? I didn’t think so) people play….

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