Manchester United will travel to Belfast on Tuesday night for a testimonial match in honour of the club's former goalkeeper Harry Gregg.
Gregg, now 80, is widely regarded as the Reds' first truly great keeper but off the pitch he will forever be associated with the Munich air disaster in 1958. His part in pulling survivors from the wreckage of United's aeroplane, including a baby and her mother, earned him the nickname ‘the Hero of Munich’.
Tickets for the testimonial game - between United and Martin O'Neill's Irish League Select XI - sold out fast, meaning a full house at Windsor Park will be able to pay tribute to Gregg, a Busby Babe who also played for Northern Ireland 25 times. United Review editor Paul Davies spoke to an ‘honoured’ Harry ahead of his big night…
Is it true that you only found out about your Testimonial after it had been organised?
I found out a few months ago from this man, John White, who I’d only met six months earlier at a talk I gave at a dinner for the [George Best] Carryduff Manchester United supporters club. He told me he’d been in contact with Old Trafford about a testimonial match, which was news to me but a pleasant surprise. Since then I’ve been a bit embarrassed about it because I had my time a long time ago and I’ve always believed that I had my day and when I packed up with football – playing and coaching – then it was time to step back and let younger people have their time.
How will you feel on the night?
I’ll be embarrassed and I’ll be shy, believe it or not. There’s a time to rattle, and I can rattle with the best of them, and there’s a time to shut up. This is a time for me to shut up. As a player and as a coach I had some wonderful times and I had some sad times as well. But when it was my time to give up it was time to step back and let other people come on the scene. I’ve only actually been out of football two or three years. I was coaching at Coleraine FC with their manager Marty Quinn, and we went to two Cup finals, one semi-final and we won the Irish Cup. I was doing that for pleasure, I didn’t take money for that; my payment was the pleasure it gave me to be involved. That’s not because I’m a nice person, that’s because I was still in love with football.