Remembering the influential Werner Staub

Tuesday 05 September 2023 14:36

All at Manchester United were sad to learn of the passing of youth football administrator Werner Staub, who had been a friend to the club since the 1950s.

Werner was best known for running the influential Blue Stars Tournament in Zurich for many years, which is now known as the Blue Stars/FIFA Youth Cup.

His association with Manchester United went back even further, dating to the days when he competed against many of the Busby Babes.

The tournament was a crucial part of the Babes' early development, with Sir Matt Busby seeing it as key preparation for many of his youngsters, ahead of the European Cup matches that were becoming commonplace for the first team after 1956.

Werner (right) presents a trophy to former United player David Wilson.
“My dad, Bobby Charlton and all the players who went on subsequent trips for decades saw this as a cornerstone of their development,” explains Werner's son, Marcel.

“George Best and many of the 1968 team played in the tournament and I was also at the tournament when the Class of ‘92 participated – Gary Neville left the trip early as he was called up to make his England debut!

“During the 1970s and early 1980s United’s participation dropped off, but it was resurrected by a chance meeting between Bobby Charlton and Werner at the Stoller hotel [in Zurich] where United had traditionally stayed.”

United have won the tournament – which Marcel also organised for 27 years – a record 18 times, with Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Roy Keane just some of the United legends to have benefited from their involvement in the tournament.

High-profile non-United names to have participated include Pep Guardiola (Barcelona) and Kaka (Sao Paulo), among many others.

Werner was an intelligent and well-respected figure across European football, with great connections at FIFA and UEFA, in particular.

He visited Manchester United as a guest on numerous occasions, and was always given a great welcome by Sir Alex Ferguson, Sir Bobby Charlton and the many club staff that knew him.

Werner chats to Sir Alex Ferguson, Jim Ryan and Paul McGuinness during a visit to United.
“Werner Staub was a close friend of Manchester United and an excellent youth developer,” reflects current Head of Academy Nick Cox.

“There are many clubs and players whom have significantly benefitted from spending time at the Blue Stars tournament.

“Some of our most well-known youth teams have enjoyed those trips and we are grateful to him for his excellent organisation and wider support of the Academy’s aims while participating in the tournament.”

The thoughts of all at the club go out to Werner's wife Irene, his children and their wider family, plus the many friends that Werner made in football and beyond.