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
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Foulkes: A United giant

1965 and '67.

That he was never called to his country's colours as a central defender can be explained only by his veteran status, having reached his mid-30s when he became a champion for the fourth time. However, that lack of recognition appears all the more perverse in view of his enduring influence as United - so fittingly in view of all that had gone before - went on to become the first English winners of the European Cup in 1968.

Despite a debilitating knee injury which would have finished the careers of less resolute characters, Bill was a back-line bulwark throughout most of that term, yet it was as an opportunist hitman late in the second leg of the semi-final at the Bernabeu that he made his most sensational contribution.

With the aggregate score at 3-3 after a United fightback, George Best danced down the right touchline and pulled the ball across the box. Bobby Charlton, Brian Kidd, maybe Johnny Aston might have been on the end of it, but it was Bill, who rarely left his own half, who astounded his team-mates by surging forward to slot home with a clinical efficiency that even the absent Denis Law could not have bettered.

Still more climactically, in the final against Benfica at Wembley, the indomitable 36-year-old gave one of his most combatively effective displays, subduing the towering Portuguese target man Jose Torres, whose complaints to the referee about the calf lacerations inflicted by Bill as he repeatedly climbed above him fell on deaf ears. True, Torres escaped for one fleeting moment, in which he set up Benfica's late equaliser, but it was the heroic Foulkes who prevailed, United running out 4-1 victors after extra time.

Thereafter, Bill made only a handful more senior appearances, fundamentally helping out when younger men earmarked to replace him had been found wanting, before concentrating on coaching, first at Old Trafford, and then successfully in the United States, Norway and Japan.

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