From the moment they joined forces at Old Trafford in 1946, the shared aim of Matt Busby and Jimmy Murphy was to get young players to understand “the Manchester United way”.
Young men invited to join the club were imbued with this philosophy by Murphy and his trusted team of trainers: Bert Whalley, Tom Curry and Bill Inglis. Roger Byrne, Jackie Blanchflower, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, Dennis Viollet, David Pegg, Albert Scanlon and Bobby Charlton all came under the spell of the Welsh firebrand.
“He was a brilliant teacher,” said Sir Bobby, “the greatest influence on my career.
"Even during the [World Cup] triumph of 1966, it was Jimmy’s words, delivered on the training grounds of Manchester, which I could hear loudest.”
It wasn’t just words, either – Murphy had the psychological tools to match. Don’t believe mind games are a modern-day invention; Murphy was at it 50 years ago.
“I was making my debut against Wolves when Jimmy came and told me to make the life of my direct opponent miserable," remembers Wilf McGuinness.
"Jimmy told me that Peter Broadbent, their inside forward, was looking to take the money I would earn as a win bonus… to all intents, stealing money from my mother. By the end of his passionate speech, I was ready to commit murder. Before the game, Peter came across and offered his best wishes for my career. I responded with a stream of filthy threats.”
Hard, but fair – that was Murphy’s law.
It was no surprise Murphy was the go-to-guy for Wales as they sought to replace coach Wally Barnes in 1957; it was a calling that, one year on, arguably saved his life. Murphy had wanted to fly to Belgrade for the European Cup quarter-final with Red Star; but Busby persuaded him to follow his World Cup commitments.
Having flown to Munich after the crash, the full horror enveloped Murphy. Bill Foulkes found him alone on the hospital staircase, weeping for the boys he’d done so much to develop. But despite that heartbreak, his indomitable spirit came