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Football and the First World War

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See reviews of Rob Cavallini's The Wanderers FC, and Around The World In 95 Games.

Duncan Edwards


If I had to play for my life, and could take one man with me, it would be Duncan Edwards. Bobby Charlton

Born in Dudley, he signed for Manchester United in June 1952 as an amateur and turned professional on 1 October 1953. He had made his debut for United in 1952 at the age of sixteen.  Edwards became one of the star players in the Busby Babes team that won the championship in 1956 and 1957 winning plaudits for his mastery of all aspects of the game as well as his good temperament.

In 1955 he became the youngest player ever to win a full England cap when he played against Scotland at the age of 18 years and 183 days helping his country to an extraordinary 7-2 victory.  In all he won 18 caps in his short career and many believe he would have been a member of the victorious 1966 World Cup side - had he lived he would have been 29.  

On 6 February 1958, the airplane carrying Edwards and his team mates home from a European Cup quarter final  match against Red Star Belgrade crashed on takeoff after a refueling stop in Munich. Seven of his team mates and 15 other passengers died, and Edwards was badly injured; injuries included multiple leg fractures and severely damaged kidneys.  

He died a few weeks later. His tragic death at the age of 21 robbed football of one of its most outstanding talents at the very height of his powers. A permanent memorial to him is contained in a stained-glass window in St. Francis` Church in Dudley, Worcestershire.

See Sir Matt Busby and Sir Bobby Charlton's tribute to Duncan Edwards: