How did it feel to win the European Cup? In his autobiography, Sir Bobby Charlton summed up his emotions after scoring his second, and United’s fourth, against Benfica…
It was triumph and deliverance all wrapped into one, but the deepest emotion would take a little time to well up. For the moment we had enough to do in getting to the finish. The contest was over, but we still had to play out the time. We still had to drag our bodies around and forget how much had been drained from us this night.
When the final whistle went my strongest sensation was worry for the Old Man. He really was, I felt, an old man. He had been through so much, and this was unquestionably the pinnacle of his football life.
For days he had been reminded of the meaning of the game, the legacy of Munich and how his boys had died in pursuit of this trophy. So many people believed that this night was for him and about him, and it was natural, I suppose, that everyone wanted to touch him at the end of the game.
When I got through to the Old Man, a great crowd of people, including some supporters, were holding on to him. Even though I was so tired, I started to drag them off. "Get off, give him some room!" I yelled.
Later I thought that was maybe a bit rude because the fans only wanted to express their happiness, but I was concerned at how he was being buffeted around. Eventually he got to his players and hugged them.
To be perfectly honest, I cannot tell you precisely my feelings at that moment. Fatigue, certainly. I do recall what it meant to embrace team-mates like Bill Foulkes, Nobby Stiles and Shay Brennan, who had been involved for so long – and maybe especially Bill because, like me, he had been on the snowy airfield and seen Matt Busby down and his team, our friends, destroyed.
I know there was an understanding that something was over, something that dominated our lives for so long. I walked to the dressing room and drank two bottles of beer, downing them in a rush, one after the other.
Sir Bobby Charlton's autobiography, My Manchester United Years, is on sale now through Headline Publishing.