The players' player

"I have untold affection for Bill Foulkes. We went through so much together."
- Sir Bobby Charlton

"I owe so much to Bill. Without him my career might have panned out differently."
- Nobby Stiles

Quotes from Inside United in December 2012.

25/11/2013 10:01, Report by Ivan Ponting
3 of 5 Previous Next 

Foulkes: A United giant

marksmen Tommy Taylor, Dennis Viollet and Billy Whelan, United romped away with the league titles of 1955/56 and 1956/57 and lost the '57 FA Cup final to Aston Villa only after being reduced to 10 men for most of the match when goalkeeper Ray Wood suffered a controversial injury.

In addition, with Bill an automatic selection at right-back, they had blazed a British trail into Europe, bowing only to the incomparable Real Madrid in the semi-final of the European Cup in 1957, then reaching the last four again in February 1958.

That was when calamity overtook Manchester United.

Twenty-three people lost their lives at Munich, including eight players, while two more were so fearfully maimed that they never competed again. Foulkes climbed from the wreckage of the crashed plane, physically unharmed but bearing mental scars that would never leave him.

Less than two weeks later he was back in action, skippering a patchwork United side on an emotional rollercoaster ride which, against all odds, culminated in another FA Cup final, which was lost to Bolton Wanderers.

Thereafter Busby, who had escaped only narrowly with his own life, set about rebuilding his decimated team. Soon Foulkes, who quickly relinquished the captaincy as he wasn't ready for it, was switched to his preferred position of centre-half, where he looked twice the performer he had ever been as a flank defender.

Invariably facing the play with majestic composure instead of having to twist and turn against elusive touchline tricksters, he became one of the most dominant stoppers in the land, virtually unbeatable in the air, eye-wateringly ferocious in the tackle and intelligent in his reading of the action.

In this pivotal role he helped to collect the FA Cup in 1963 and then, forming an outstanding partnership with the diminutive but fearsomely combative and equally astute Nobby Stiles, he was rarely absent as league titles were secured in

3 of 5 Previous Next 

on Twitter