Listen to UTD Podcast with Alex Stepney
The UTD Podcast series continues this week with a 90-minute episode featuring our 1968 European Cup-winning goalkeeper Alex Stepney.
The 78-year-old, who also lifted a league title with the Reds in 1967 and gained an FA Cup winners’ medal a decade later, sits seventh in the club’s all-time appearances list, having played 539 games – far more than any other goalkeeper.
Stepney even scored twice for United in a colourful dozen-year spell at Old Trafford, which also included relegation from the top flight in 1974 under Tommy Docherty – and promotion back to the big time at the first time of asking.
In an honest and enlightening chat with hosts Sam Homewood, David May and Helen Evans, Alex reveals how he heard the tragic news about the Munich Air Disaster and how Sir Matt Busby built a family in the years that followed.
The former keeper also told the tale of the European Cup triumph in 1968 and his iconic save when faced with formidable Benfica forward Eusebio.
But one of the best tales came from when he was about to leave Chelsea in 1966 - but didn't know which team he'd be signing for. He recalled his surprise as in walked Sir Matt to bring him to Old Trafford:
“After training I got a call from the trainer, Jimmy Andrews, saying, ‘You’ve got to go back to Stamford Bridge, the boss wants you there.’ I went back and he says, ‘Right, get in the car.’ I said, ‘Where are we going?’ He said, ‘You’ll find out’. We drove into London and we pulled up at the White House Hotel, near Euston Station, and we sat in reception. I said, ‘What are we doing here?’ ‘You’ll find out,’ he kept saying, ‘You’ll find out.’ As I was sat there, the revolving doors started moving and in walked Matt Busby and Jimmy Murphy.
“I had no idea, the Doc never said anything at all. Matt just came straight over to him. He was in charge. You knew, the aura, that he was in charge. When he checked in, he came back and said, ‘Alex, pleased to meet you. Right Jimmy, you take Alex to your room and have a chat and me and Tommy will have a chat.’
UTD Podcast: When Stepney denied Eusebio
Alex Stepney was famously applauded by the great Eusebio in 1968, but the club hero was too busy playing on to notice...
“The crazy thing when I look back was, I’m in this room with Jimmy Murphy, he was a real character as I found out over the years. He kept saying, ‘Now listen son, Manchester United are a great team. We have George Best, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, David Herd, Paddy Crerand…’ He just went on and on and I said, ‘You don’t have to tell me!’
“He said, ‘You’ll enjoy it up north, we are very friendly’. Then all of a sudden, the door opened and Tommy and Matt came in and he said, ‘Right Tommy, I’ll leave you here. Come on Alex, come and have a chat with me son.’ He took me into the room and he said, ‘Look everything’s been agreed. I’ll tell you now, at Manchester United we don’t do any signing on fees. There’s nothing like that at all but you get a good wage.’ He told me the wage and he said, ‘Are you happy with that?’ I said, ‘Yes’ and he said, ‘That’s brilliant, glad you are on board. You are going to enjoy yourself at United. Go home and meet me at 9.30 and we will get the 10 o’clock train back to Manchester.’”