had died, and said that Matt, Johnny Berry and Duncan Edwards were upstairs."
Picking up the pieces
“You don’t get over something like that. I’ve got the last line-up of the team in my lounge and I see the boys every time I get up and go downstairs. I was lucky because Duncan Edwards lived just two doors down from my digs, and Tommy Taylor was five doors away. I used to call for them to train every morning for three months, so I got to know them like brothers. I missed them a lot.
“I came back from the crash on the train with Dennis Viollet. He was told not to kick a ball for a year. I was home for a week and Jimmy Murphy came to get me because he said we had no players – and no wingers. I played in a few games up to Wembley, I was picked on the Friday night to play [in the final] – so I was over the moon. I thought ‘I could play my heart out for the players that died’. Walking round the ground, Jimmy came up and told me he wasn’t going to play me because he thought the atmosphere in the ground would be too much. I wasn’t very pleased. A fortnight later he picked me for the Milan game at Old Trafford and told me he was sorry he hadn’t played me at Wembley because I’d have won the game for him. I played my heart out that night, I was man of the match against Milan. Then I just sort of packed my career in – I just didn’t want to play in the first team. I missed the boys that had died. I went home to Swansea – the boss thought it would help my career if I went back for a fresh start. But my heart wasn’t in it."
What might have been
"I’m not bitter. To be laying in a Munich hospital and to have someone tell you the players that had died and you were still alive, it was just, well, a funny situation… But I can still see them now – they were a great, great team. Before I got into the side they’d played Real Madrid at Old Trafford – they were supposed to be the best team in the world. You had Alfredo Di Stefano at centre-forward, the best in the world: nothing like Tommy Taylor. You had Puskas – he wasn’t as good as Duncan Edwards, Duncan could play inside-left. Duncan had another 12 years in him – at 21, he’d played five years for United and four for England. Then you had Gento – Albert Scanlon could catch pigeons, like he could. They were such a good side."