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Harry Gregg: Manchester United great is called a ‘one off’ at his funeral | UK News



Manchester United great Harry Gregg has been described as a “one off” at his funeral.

The former Northern Ireland international, who was named the best goalkeeper of the 1958 World Cup, died earlier this week, aged 87.

He will forever be associated with the Munich air disaster – in the same year – in which 23 people were killed, including seven players in the Manchester United team known as the ‘Busby Babes’.

The plane carrying manager Matt Busby’s young side back from a European game in the former Yugoslavia crashed on a snowy runway on 6 February after its third attempt at take-off.

Manchester goalkeeper Harry Gregg makes a save during a match against Arsenal at Highbury, London, 21st September 1963. (Photo by Kent Gavin/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Gregg makes a save against Arsenal at Highbury in 1963
Gregg at a service commemorating the 60th anniversary of the air disaster
Gregg at a service commemorating the 60th anniversary of the air disaster

Gregg survived, and twice returned to the burning wreckage to drag his teammates and strangers to safety.

Sir Bobby Charlton, one of the players the goalkeeper pulled out, was among the mourners at the service in his hometown of Coleraine, Northern Ireland.

Fellow United legends Sir Alex Ferguson and Denis Law were also there to pay their respects.

Gregg also rescued a 20-month-old baby and her badly injured pregnant mother.

His funeral was coincidentally held on the anniversary of Duncan Edwards’ death, the final victim of the disaster.

The 21-year-old United and England star died in a Munich hospital two weeks afterwards.

Denis Law and Sir Alex Ferguson were among those at the funeral
Denis Law and Sir Alex Ferguson were among those at the funeral
Sir Bobby Charlton was among the players Harry Gregg pulled out of the wreckage following the Munich disaster
Gregg pulled Sir Bobby Charlton from the wreckage of the air disaster

Members of his family were also at St Patrick’s Parish Church in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, which was full and had a large crowd listening outside in the rain.

Gregg’s son John-Henry paid tribute to his father and joked that his arrival in heaven may disturb the tranquillity.

He said: “I believe my dad’s life is something – even though we are hurting – that should be celebrated because, as they say, he certainly was a one off.”

Mr Gregg also mentioned the Edwards family.

He continued: “On behalf of my family – and my dad would definitely have wanted me to say this – this is also the day that Duncan Edwards lost his fight in a hospital in Munich, and we think his family should be mentioned.

“Some of his family are here today, so like every Manchester United supporter it’s important.”

John-Henry Gregg described his father as a 'one-off' at his funeral
John-Henry Gregg described his father as a ‘one off’ at his funeral
Harry Gregg, died this week, aged 87
Gregg died this week at the age of 87

During his nine years at United, Gregg played 247 times, including in a 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday, just 13 days after the Munich disaster.

In 1957, he became the world’s most expensive goalkeeper when Sir Matt Busby’s United paid Doncaster £23,000 for him.

He won 25 caps for his country during an international career that was hampered by injury.

Long-time friend Liam Beckett raised a laugh when he joked that so many of his stories about Gregg would not have been suitable for a church.

Referring to the stopper’s renowned forthright manner, he said Gregg could be “quite outspoken”, and “didn’t always say what people wanted him to say, and that’s another reason why I admired him immensely”.

Mr Beckett added: “He spoke what he felt, he spoke what he thought was right.

“So many people nowadays, and sport in many ways has become false, (but) never when Harry was about, because he told the truth.”

Mourners arrive for the funeral of Harry Gregg at St Patrick's Parsh Church, Coleraine
Mourners at the funeral at St Patrick’s Parish Church, Coleraine, Co Londonderry

Former Manchester United player Sammy McIlroy was also at the service, along with his ex-international teammate with Northern Ireland, Gerry Armstrong.

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and Olympic gold medallist Dame Mary Peters were also present.

Gregg is survived by his widow Carolyn, daughters Linda, Julie, Jane, and Suzanne, son John-Henry, sons-in-law David and Keith, daughter-in-law Tina, and sister Elizabeth.

His first wife Mavis and daughter Karen passed away before him.

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