Manchester United's phoenix-like rise from tragedy to triumph was completed 45 years ago this week (29 May 1968), when the Reds won the European Cup for the first time.
A decade after eight of his players and three club officials perished in the Munich air disaster, an emotional Sir Matt Busby watched as Bobby Charlton, a fellow survivor, lifted the European Cup after a thrilling extra-time victory over Benfica at Wembley Stadium.
Charlton, fittingly, opened and later closed the scoring, breaking the deadlock eight minutes into the second period with a deft header from David Sadler’s left-wing cross. United had chances to put the game to bed but with nine minutes left Graca equalised for Benfica.
Benfica could have won it when Eusebio had only Alex Stepney to beat but he hammered his finish straight at the keeper and the final went into extra-time. For the next nine minutes, United cut loose. Best nutmegged his marker and, with a trademark hip shimmy, rounded Henrique to nonchalantly side-foot home. Brian Kidd then capped his 19th birthday by dispatching the Reds' third goal and setting up Charlton to make it 4-1.
At the final whistle United’s players didn’t cavort on the turf with each other; almost to a man they ran to the Reds’ bench, eager to share their triumph with Busby.