Today marks 50 years since one of the greatest nights in Manchester United's history, when Matt Busby's men held off six-time European Cup winners Real Madrid in the 1968 semi-final second leg to reach the final of the competition for the first time.
“This is without doubt United’s greatest night – our finest hour,”said Busby after the final whistle. In the dressing room, Paddy Crerand recalled the boss
“unashamedly and understandably crying”and hugging the players one by one.
'Real were acting like they'd won'Video
“Manchester United toil for meagre reward,”wrote football correspondent Geoffrey Green in the Times.
United earn narrow win to take to SpainVideo
“Madrid battered us in the first half,”recalled Crerand.
“They played the ball around so quick that we couldn’t get close to them.”
“I was sick as I found my way to the dressing room at half-time. The players had their heads between their legs,”admitted Busby.
“I put it to them very strongly that we were only one goal down on aggregate. We could not win if we were not venturesome, and it would not make any difference if we lost by more goals than the one we were behind if we lost at all. So we must not fear defeat. We must go at them.”
“My first reaction was: ‘What’s that idiot doing there?’”remembered Crerand, of Foulkes’ uncharacteristic sally into enemy territory.
“But Bill knew best this time.”
“I reached the corner of the box and I found myself calling for the ball,“ reminisced Foulkes. ”George [Best] saw me and I thought I was going to be ignored again. You must appreciate that I was never famous for my attacking skills!
“I thought George was going to shoot, but instead he cut back the most beautiful ball to me. It was perfect and I just had to side-foot it in at the far side. There wasn’t a sound from the 120,000 Spaniards and my first thought was it couldn’t be a goal. My next recollection was trying to get bodies off me as the lads piled in. I was really worried about my knee [Foulkes’ knee had ‘blown up’ four days earlier during a league game against Sunderland].
Celebrating our heroes of '68Video
“For Matt Busby, the man who has striven so long and so hard for success in Europe and who has never lost faith in his club’s ability to achieve it, this was the night on which a dream came true,”acclaimed the Daily Mail’s Ronald Crowther.
“We were on the last rung of the staircase to the sky,”said the great man.
Boys of '68 reunion Gallery
The heroes of 1968 were together once again as Old Trafford celebrated 50 years since our first European Cup.