the next dark.
"There was no screaming, no sounds, only the terrible shearing of metal. Something cracked my skull like a hard-boiled egg. I was hit again at the front. The salty taste of blood was in my mouth. I was afraid to put my hands to my head. An eerie stillness replaced the chaos, punctuated only by the interminable sound of hissing. All around was darkness, as if it was frozen in time."
In his reaction to the situation, Gregg ensured that it would be his deeds forever enshrined in history. He frantically sifted through the wreckage for a baby he had noticed on board and, upon hearing her cry, pulled her to safety. A courageous act in itself, yet Gregg returned to the smouldering, hissing nightmare. Repeatedly.
He pulled the child’s pregnant mother to safety, hauled Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet loose, freed Matt Busby and then, finally, tended Jackie Blanchflower and affixed him with a tourniquet to stem the bleeding from his compatriot’s severely wounded arm.
Repeated acts of self-endangerment and disregard of all survival instincts. Yet so self-effacing and humble is Gregg, that he has never fully accepted his act of valour in the ensuing half-century and more. “Notoriety has come at a price, for Munich has cast a shadow over my life which I found difficult to dispel,” he wrote, while repeatedly imploring interviewers down the years: “Remember me as a footballer and not a hero.”
On its own merits, Gregg’s is a career worth celebrating. Just four months after Munich, he was selected as the outstanding goalkeeper at the 1958 World Cup, and he went on to make 247 appearances over a decade at Old Trafford – though he was dogged by misfortune at key times in his playing career.
Unceremoniously barged into his own net by Nat Lofthouse for Bolton’s clinching second goal in the 1958 FA Cup final, the Ulsterman was then ruled out of the Reds’ 1963 triumph by injury, which also prohibited him from playing any part in