Manchester United stopped being just another football club on the afternoon of Feb. 6 1958 when the plane carrying them home from Belgrade crashed after a refuelling stop at Munich.
A transformation took place in the national consciousness as a stunned public learnt by wireless and news flashes on small grainy television sets of the tragedy that had wiped out the cream of a generation, the Busby Babes.
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People who had no interest in soccer began following the fortunes of United, neutrals willed them to win. The players who survived the crash, such as Bobby Charlton, won a special place in people's hearts and United itself became an icon of hope born of tragedy.
Matt Busby's young team, champions of England in 1956 and 1957, died in the slush and snow of Munich after their twin-propped Elizabethan aircraft crashed on a third take-off attempt.
Photograph: A statue of Sir Matt Busby stands in front of a giant mural commemorating the famous Busby Babes on the front of Manchester United's football stadium at Old Trafford/ Getty Images