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"He's a special man, no question about that. And I think that anyone who knows Harry realises they're speaking to a really genuine man."

- Sir Alex Ferguson

25/10/2012 08:37, Report by Steve Bartram
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Happy 80th, Harry Gregg

shouted: 'I don't know what you are laughing at, we're all going to get killed here'. Liam Whelan piped up: 'Well, if this is the time, I'm ready'.

"As I watched out of the window, the wheels began to lift off the ground. Then bang! There was a sudden crash and debris began bombarding me on all sides. One second it was light, 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.”

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