Sir Matt Busby
Laced with both glory and tragedy, Matt Busby’s legendary footballing career began as a player with Denny Hibernians in 1927 and culminated in overseeing Manchester United become the first English team to win the European Cup in 1968, earning him a knighthood. He is regarded as one of the greatest football managers of all time.
Sir Matt Busby
Birthplace Orbiston, Bellshill
Date of birth 26/05/1909
Date of death 20/01/1994
Playing career Denny Hibs, Manchester City, Liverpool
Teams managed Manchester United, Great Britain (Olympics), Scotland
In 1927, Matt Busby was set to start a new life in America with his mother had he not started playing for Denny Hibernians, before being picked up by Manchester City in 1928.
In 1936 he signed for Liverpool, where the beginning of the Second World War put an end to his professional playing career.
Second World War
Busby signed up for the King’s Liverpool Regiment, but was able to continue with football through his role as a coach in the Amy’s Physical Training Corps.
He played some football throughout the war, appearing for teams including Chelsea, Middlesborough, Reading, and Hibernian as a wartime guest.
He made seven international appearances for Scotland against England in unofficial wartime friendlies to add to his one official international cap after appearing against Wales in 1933.
In his own words
I never wanted Manchester United to be second to anybody. Only the best would be good enough.
At Manchester United, Busby revolutionised youth development, instilling a vision at the club that would see an elite squad comprised of local players that had risen through the ranks of the development system.
In 1957, Busby became the first manager to play a side that included 10 players in the first team that had previously been part of Manchester United’s youth teams– earning the squad the nickname, the ‘Busby Babes’.
On an 11-match unbeaten streak and having just overcome Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup, the team were set to advance to the semi-finals when the plane carrying them home tragically crashed. The Munich Air Disaster resulted in 23 fatalities, including 8 players, 3 staff, and 2 journalists.
Busby incurred injuries so severe that he himself was not expected to survive. He returned to managing over 1958 and 1959, rebuilding the team at Manchester United after the tragedy.
Rebuilding Manchester United
10 years after the disaster, and having considered moving away from football entirely, Matt Busby was back in the driving seat at Manchester United with a rebuilt team.
The next generation of Busby Babes included the likes of footballing legends Dennis Law and George Best.
In 1968, Matt Busby saw his biggest success when the team won the European Cup against Benfica in front of a crowd of over 90,000. He was awarded a Knighthood following the victory.
Honours as a Manager
European Champions Clubs' Cup
English Super Cup