FEATURES

Dennis Viollet
Striker

Apps: 293
Goals: 179
Debut: 11 Apr 1953 v Newcastle (a)
08/02/2008 10:00, Report by Helen Viollet
1 of 2 Next 

Touched by tragedy

United great Dennis Viollet survived the 1958 air crash but sadly passed away in 1999. Here, his second wife tells ManUtd.com of Dennis' painful Munich memories…

The first time I met Dennis I was 16 and it was two years after the Munich air crash. My father was a jeweller on Deansgate and a lot of the players used to do business with him. Before the crash Tommy Taylor was always coming in - later, John Doherty was a real wheeler and dealer. 

Even after I got to know Dennis well and eventually married him in 1969, it was unusual for him to talk much about Munich. When he did, however, he became very sad.

He remembered sitting next to Bobby Charlton on the plane and on the third attempt to take off he turned to Bob and said: “We’re not going to make it." Then he blacked out and when he came to he was still strapped in his seat, although the force of the crash had pulled his shoes and socks off.

I remember Dennis saying he thought Roger Byrne, the team’s captain, had just been knocked unconscious because he didn’t have a mark on him. Roger was Dennis’ hero; he admired him tremendously because he was very intelligent.

The events of Munich hit Dennis very, very hard. Shortly afterwards, during his first marriage, he said he often couldn’t sleep at night so he’d get up and go out into the nightclubs in town.

He also had good memories and spoke with great affection for the boys. He talked about their friendship and the camaraderie that existed in the dressing room.

Dennis eventually died in 1999, as a result of a brain tumour he developed in 1997. He never took much notice of dates but that year, on 6 February, he woke up and said: “Is it 6 February today?" I told him it was and he said: “I thought so. I always get a strange feeling on that date.”

He battled very hard against his illness and he was determined to make the most of his time. He knew his other mates hadn’t been so lucky. When he found out he was ill he said: “They tried to kill me all those years ago in Munich and they didn’t do it. They’re not going to do it this time.”

1 of 2 Next 

@ManUtd
on Twitter