Harry Gregg says Munich disaster service will be his final time at Old Trafford

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Harry Gregg says the service marking the 60th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster will

Harry Gregg says Tuesday's service marking exactly 60 years since the Munich Air Disaster will be his final time at Old Trafford.

The Northern Irishman and Sir Bobby Charlton are the last remaining players from the Busby Babes squad still alive.

"I think it's bound to be (my last time at Old Trafford). It has to be," 85-year-old Gregg told BBC Sport NI.

Gregg continues to play down the hero's label he received after helping to pull survivors from the wreckage.

"Professor Maurer (head of Munich hospital) and his staff saved a lot of lives. I know what I did. I know what I saw."

Harry Gregg at Old Trafford on Monday with the statue of Sir Matt Busby in the background
Harry Gregg arrives in Old Trafford on Monday as the club prepares for Tuesday's memorial service on the 60th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster

Northern Ireland goalkeeper's Gregg's response immediately after the crash included rescuing a young baby from the plane in addition to finding Manchester United team-mates Charlton and Jackie Blanchflower alive.

Seven of Gregg's team-mates in the Busby Babes squad were killed immediately while rising star Duncan Edwards died 15 days later in hospital, with the final death toll from the plane crash reaching 23.

Manager Matt Busby was given the last rites by a Roman Catholic priest after the crash but survived and was back in the United dugout by the start of the following season.

"I know I saw Jackie Blanchflower lying and Roger Byrne (who was dead), Jackie didn't know it, lying on top of him and not a mark on Roger," recalls Gregg.

"Jackie was crying, 'Greggy...I've broke my back'. I looked down and his right arm was hanging off."

Amazingly, Gregg was back in action within two weeks in an FA Cup tie for Manchester United as the club defeated Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 and four months later he was voted best goalkeeper in the world after starring for Northern Ireland at the World Cup finals in Sweden.

The Munich Memorial plaque at Old Trafford
Eight Manchester United players were among the 23 people killed in the Munich Air Disaster

While by his own admission undoubtedly scarred by the shocking events of Munich, Gregg has always protested that his life should not be defined by what happened on that fateful day 60 years ago.

"I would be telling lies if I said that I thought about it all the time. In fact I would go insane," adds the county Londonderry man, who remained at United until signing for Stoke City in 1966.

"I know the media would like to talk about what happened on a runway. I don't blame people for that but if all I was ever part of or all I ever achieved was to do with what happened in Germany, in Munich, if that was what my life was all about, it didn't come to very much.

"I do not think what happened in Munich made Manchester United. It is a very large part of Manchester United history but it's not all Manchester United.

"I have seen Manchester United through bad times and good times. I'm just very glad that Henry Gregg from 34 Windsor Avenue (in Coleraine) was counted good enough to play for what I consider to be one of the greatest clubs in the world."

But while Harry Gregg refuses to be defined by Munich, he finishes off the interview with a poem in which he pays a emotional tribute to his team-mates who died on that day.

How they laughed, they loved and played the game together

Played the game and gave it every ounce of life

And the crowds they thronged to see such free young spirits

My good God, there wasn't many who came home

Roger Byrne, Mark Jones and Salford's Eddie Colman

Tommy Taylor, Geoffrey Bent and David Pegg

Duncan Edwards, Dublin's own boy Liam Whelan

My good God, there wasn't any who came home

There are those gone down that long, long road before us

But each morn we try and keep them in our sight

In memories' eyes, the Busby Babes are all immortal

The Red Devil spirit lives and never died

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