DUNCAN EDWARDS – THE BLACK COUNTRY BOY WHO BECAME A DEVIL AND A LION

Duncan Edwards

Written by John White for Manchester United Did You Know That

Duncan Edwards was born on 1 October 1936 at 23 Malvern Crescent, Woodside, Dudley, Worcestershire (registered in Dudley, December 1936), to Gladstone and Sarah Anne (née Harrison) Edwards.  He weighed 9lbs 8oz at birth, which was a good start to life for him given the living conditions in the coal and iron producing market town of Dudley.  Many babies born at the time were simply just too frail to survive life in a post Great Depression world with many succumbing to pneumonia and typhoid, two of the biggest causes of deaths in infants in the late 1930’s.  Not long after he came into the world, Duncan and his family moved to the nearby Priory Estate and their new home, which in comparison to many others in the town, was relatively luxurious in that it had a garden front and back, a bathroom and an indoor toilet.  However, his father ensured that his son never thought of himself as being better than any of the other children he played with or went to school with.  Respect played a major part in Duncan’s life long before he kicked a football for the very first time.      

He attended Priory Primary School and Wolverhampton Street Secondary School, Dudley.  And, like so many other young boys did on their way to and from school, Duncan dribbled a football along the pavement, in the school playground and on the streets near his house from morning to night at weekends.  He was in love with football and even at an early age he set himself on a course to becoming a professional footballer.  By the time he was playing for his junior school his football talent was already being noticed.  One of his schoolmasters, Geoff Groves, was watching the 11-year-old Duncan one afternoon and noted that during a school training match that his pupil: “Told all the other 21 players what to do and where to go and that included the referee and linesmen!”  That same schoolmaster later wrote to a friend: “I have just seen a boy of 11 who will play for England one day.”  How right Mr Groves prophecy proved to be.  When he was 13, Duncan wrote a school essay in which he spoke about “playing at Wembley Stadium.”   

The young Edwards played school football with Wolverhampton Street Secondary School, where his skills and talent were harnessed and he was soon playing regularly with Dudley Schoolboys, where his cousin Dennis Stevens was captain, and his teammates were three years older than him, then Worcester County XI followed by the Birmingham and District team.  Despite being the youngest player on the pitch in most of the games he played in, he dominated his opponents.  He was a man in a young boy’s body which was still developing.  Still not a teenager, his mature physique was backed up by an extraordinarily self-confident mentality.  In 1950, he was invited to play for the England Under-14s against Northern Ireland Under-14s at Boundary Park, Oldham, England where he was played up front.  Every time he received a junior call-up to the England ranks, his schoolmates would tease him, but in a good-natured way, ruffling his hair as he cowered, embarrassed at his fame amongst his peers.

Duncan was fearless in the tackle and with legs like oak trees he was remarkably very light and nimble on his feet.  He seemed to glide across the grass or, more often than not, skim across the mud.  His superb balance may have been down to the fact that when he was very young he had taken an interest in the less macho activities of Morris and sword dancing, which led to his Arts & Folk teacher, Mrs Cook, saying of her former star pupil: “He was so light on those feet with bells on the ankles; so beautifully balanced, so dainty.”  But dainty was not a word anyone could use about Duncan’s style of play. 

Shortly after he penned his essay, he was selected to play for England Schoolboys before a crowd of 100,000 fans.  He was still only 13-years old, two years below the age group for that junior level of schoolboy international football.  All of the top scouts from the leading clubs in England were at the game hoping to be the man who would be credited with spotting the next Tom Finley, Nat Lofthouse, Stanley Matthews, Jackie Milburn or Billy Wright.  And, it was the youngest player on the pitch, Duncan, who was the game’s outstanding player that day on the hallowed Wembley turf.  One scout was heard to remark: “By God, they’ve got a good ‘un there!”  Duncan played for England Schoolboys for the next two seasons.  On 7 April 1951, he won his second cap for England Schoolboys versus Wales Schoolboys with his name appearing in the match programme as: “Left-half, D. Edwards (Dudley).”  Another crowd of 100,000 fans were in attendance, the vast majority of them young schoolboys who looked on that day in the hope that they would become the next Duncan Edwards.  England’s outside-left that afternoon was “D. Pegg (Doncaster).”  David Pegg had signed as an apprentice with Manchester United on 20 September 1950, the day of his 15th birthday.  Duncan and David would go on to become Busby Babes and play in the same team together and sadly, both young men would lose their lives in the Munich Air Disaster on 6 February 1958.  In 1952, the same year he signed as an apprentice for Manchester United, Duncan captained England Schoolboys.  Although he was originally an inside-forward, Edwards’ favoured position was left-half where he could control the flow of games with his dominant style of play.

Given his meteoric rise through the junior ranks, Duncan was a marked man.  The coaches of opposing teams would single Duncan out telling his young charges that if they could take him out of the game then they stood a chance of winning it.  However, saying it was one thing but achieving it was something completely different.  Trying to negate Duncan’s style of play was like trying to put a forest fire out.  You could dampen down parts of it and even quell it for a while before it came raging back at you with greater intensity than before.  His ability and willingness to take on any challenge, no matter how tough, was all about bettering himself, never about humiliating opponents for the sake of it.  Even throughout his many battles he maintained the manners and honesty his parents had taught him. “Admittedly he had a big mouth, coming from a rough background, but I do not think anyone ever took exception as his advice, like his play, was so impressive. He had quietened down considerably by the time he reached 14,” Mr Groves once said.  Indeed, later in his career, when he was lining up alongside Newcastle United’s legendary striker Jackie Milburn, he leaned over to him in the tunnel before a game and said: “I’m a big follower of your career, but reputations mean nothing to me, and if I get a word out of you I’ll kick you over the stand. Ok chief?” To say that to any fellow professional would be unthinkable, but to do so in the face of such an established star at such a precocious age was bordering on the arrogant – except Edwards was not a bragger. He backed up any claim he made on the pitch, and that was where it was left as far as he was concerned.  He was the ultimate professional, a teetotaller.  Outside football he was known to be a very private individual, whose interests included fishing, playing cards and visiting the cinema although he did also enjoy going along to the occasional dance.   

Two ever presents watching his early games, apart from his family, were Joe Armstrong, one of Manchester United’s leading scouts and the club’s Midlands scout, Jack O’Brien.  Armstrong realised Edwards’ talent as soon as he saw the teenage star trap a football with consummate ease despite the fact that the pitch beneath the young boy’s feet resembled a quagmire and when the leather laced football fell down from the sky, it practically weighed the same weight as a bowling ball.  Duncan knew Jack and Joe were watching him but the fact that he was being eyed-up as a potential Busby Babe by two of Manchester United’s top scouts in the country, Edwards did not try to impress his onlookers with any party tricks or fancy play.  Duncan was never a showman.  He didn’t need to try and emphasise his talent by attempting something foreign to his style of play, because he was, despite his young age, the finished article as a player.  

However, O’Brien and Armstrong were not the only scouts showing a keen interest in Duncan as several clubs, including clubs close to his home, Wolverhampton Wanderers situated just six miles away and the Birmingham based trio of Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion.  But Duncan had always set his heart on playing for Manchester United and it was O’Brien and Armstrong who helped the young boy from a modest upbringing in the Black Country to fulfil his dreams and become a Manchester United player.  

The day after the game in which Duncan captained the England Schoolboys side, O’Brien placed a handwritten letter on Busby’s desk at Old Trafford.  It simply read: “Have today seen a 13-year-old schoolboy who merits special watching. His name is Duncan Edwards, of Dudley. Instructions please.”  Busby put pen to paper and instructed his leading Scout, Bert Whalley, to “Please arrange special watch immediately – MB (Matt Busby).”  Whalley did as instructed and when he saw him play, he could not believe the talent the young Edwards possessed and the maturity of his play despite his tender age.  

On 31 May 1952, Jimmy Murphy and Bert Whalley, secured the 15-year old schoolboy’s signature as an amateur at Duncan’s home on the Priory Estate, Dudley.  Acquiring the prestigiously talented Edwards was a major coup for Manchester United.  It sent out a message to every other club in the land that a young player’s place of birth, or his support for his local hometown club, meant nothing if the boy had his heart set on one day pulling on the famous red jersey of Manchester United.  Schoolboys up and down the land wanted to follow his path to Old Trafford.

Before she died aged 93, Duncan’s Mum told how the Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, Stan Cullis, used to call round to the Edwards’ family home quite regularly in the hope that he could persuade Duncan to sign for Wolves.  “He used to sit outside the house in his car, waiting for Duncan to come home from school.   Wolves were a big club then. It was always them and United ­trying to outdo one ­another in those days.  Mr Cullis was a lovely man, but I think he knew all along that he was wasting his time. My Duncan only ever wanted to play for United.  I don’t know what it was about Manchester United. He seemed to be attracted to them for some ­reason. It’s lovely that they still remember him, isn’t it?  Whenever I visit his grave there are always some messages and flowers from supporters who have been to the graveyard.”

At the 1976 Summer Olympic Games hosted by Montreal, Canada, the Romanian gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, became the first gymnast in Olympic history to be awarded the perfect score of 10.0 for her performance on the uneven bars.  Omega SA, the Swiss company which manufactured the electronic scoreboards for the Games, were led to believe that no gymnast would ever be awarded the perfect score and therefore their numbering system only went up to 9.9.  Thus, when her score was displayed it came up as 1.0 which was the only way the panel of judges could show that the 14-year old had in fact reached perfection.  She went on earn a further six 10.0’s at the XXI Olympiad. 

Whenever Duncan took to the pitch, Armstrong had already scored him a perfect 10 before he even touched the football because it was impossible for Duncan to try and up his game to try and impress.  He was like a Rolls Royce as he cruised his way through any obstacle in front of him.  Even the legendary Bobby Charlton, a former teammate of Duncan, once said of him: “He was the best player I’ve ever seen and the best footballer I ever played with. I always felt I could compare well with any player – except Duncan. He was such a talent, I always felt inferior to him.”  On 1 October 2016, Sir Bobby Charlton unveiled a plaque at a ceremony in Dudley, close to Duncan’s home and told those in attendance that Duncan’s death was “the biggest single tragedy ever to happen to Manchester United and English football.”  In a moving tribute from the United great he told the crowd in attendance that Duncan had been “like a brother” to him. The event took place on what would have been Edwards’s 80th birthday.  The blue plaque features the words: “Duncan Edwards, Footballer of genius, b Dudley 1934 d Munich 1958, Player for Manchester United and England, Grew up on the Priory Estate and attended Priory Primary School.”  It also includes the famous quote from Edwards’ primary schoolmaster in Dudley, Geoff Groves: “I have just seen a boy of eleven who will play for England one day.”

Aged 16 years and 185 days old, Busby knew he could no longer hold back Duncan’s progression to the first team.  On 4 April 1953, Busby handed him his first team debut but it wasn’t a game Duncan cared to remember as United were beaten 4-1 at Old Trafford by Cardiff City in the English First Division (scorer: Roger Byrne).  He did not feature again in Busby’s side for the remaining five League games.  Duncan subsequently signed his professional contract with Manchester United on 1 October 1953, the day of his 17thbirthday.  Duncan’s reward was a paltry £15 weekly pay packet during the season reducing to £12 a week during close season.  After his death, neighbours of Duncan’s parents told a story that a new washing machine was delivered to the Edwards’ house on the day that Duncan signed for Manchester United.  These were the pre-big signing on fee days of the beautiful game which was, in many ways still enjoying a certain degree of innocence and lack of corruption, although a washing machine in 1952 was considered to be a luxury item.

After arriving at Old Trafford, the young Edwards quickly settled in with his landlady at 19 Gorse AvenueGorse Hill, Stretford, Manchester.  Today a blue plaque is on the wall of the house which reads: 

DUNCAN EDWARDS (1936-58), Manchester United and England footballer lived here.  He was one of eight Busby Babes who lost their lives in the Munich Air Disaster.”

During his childhood his family couldn’t afford a summer holiday, money was tight in the household, but after he arrived at Old Trafford, Jimmy Murphy took him under his wing and became like a second father to him.  During the close season the Murphy family would take Duncan and his colleague Wilf McGuinness to the Emerald Isle, with the seaside town of Bray in County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland a favourite destination.  Murphy was the Patriarch to all of Manchester United’s youth team players.  The boys idolised him and his love for them showed no bounds.  Although Jimmy would always say that he did not have a particular favourite young player, Duncan was always very special to him and remained close to his heart until Jimmy died on 14 November 1989.  

He might have been the Koh-i-Noor diamond among our crown jewels, but he was an unspoiled boy to the end, his head the same size it had been from the start.  Even when he had won his first England cap but was still eligible for our youth team, he used to love turning out with the rest of the youngsters. He just loved to play anywhere and with anyone.” – Jimmy Murphy

Duncan won the FA Youth Cup with the club’s Youth Team in 1953, 1954 and 1955.

Although he owned a car, he could not drive and instead he would cycle to and from Old Trafford on his Raleigh bike.  Following a game which United lost, he was cycling home and was stopped by a policeman for not having lights on his bike.  He was fined 10 shillings in Manchester Magistrates Court and a further 2 weeks’ salary by Matt Busby for bringing the club’s name into disrepute.  In one season he played more than 100 games – Manchester United, England and his National Service Regiment.

Duncan won the first of his 18 full international caps on 2 April 1955, in a 7-2 mauling of Scotland at The Empire Stadium, London in the British Home International Championships.  His club captain, Roger Byrne, also played in the game.  He was aged just 18 years and 183 days.

I played for Scotland when Duncan Edwards made his debut for England as an eighteen year old at Wembley Stadium in 1955. England won 7-2 and Dennis Wilshaw of the Wolves scored 4 goals – but it was Duncan Edwards who was the star of the show. Duncan was the complete footballer and there is.

Tommy Docherty, Preston North End

The loss of 8 Busby Babes in the Munich Air Disaster also affected Armstrong immensely but the United scout knew that the club needed him to be there to help Murphy rebuild a team as Busby lay in a hospital bed in Munich, West Germany fighting for his life following the horrific injuries he sustained in the crash.  Busby had not long been out of hospital before the trip to play Red Star Belgrade in the Yugoslavian capital on 5 February 1958.  He had undergone a minor operation on his legs.  Murphy missed the trip to United’s European Cup, quarter-final, second leg tie as he was in charge of Wales that same evening United played in Belgrade.  The Welsh were playing Israel in Cardiff, Wales in a play-off game for the 1958 Fifa World Cup finals hosted by Sweden.  Murphy later said: “I usually sat next to Matt on the plane and had the next room to his at the hotel whenever the team went away and I had suggested that I went to Belgrade, with it being such an important European Cup game.  He had said, “No, Jimmy, you have a job to do,” so (the coach) Bert Whalley went to Belgrade in my place.”  Bert lost his life in the air disaster.

The name of Duncan Edwards was on the lips of everyone who saw this match; he was phenomenal.  There have been few individual performances to match what he produced that day.  Duncan tackled like a lion, attacked at every opportunity and topped it off with that cracker of a goal.  He was still only 19, but was already a world-class player.” – Billy Wright

Billy Wright, England captain was speaking about Duncan’s performance on 26 May 1956 in an international versus the reigning Fifa World Cup holders West Germany, at the Olympiastadion, Berlin.  With the score standing at 0-0 with 25 minutes to go, Edwards produced his finest strike on the highest stage of elite football.  Duncan gained possession halfway inside the German half and set off on a run, cutting through the German defence like a hot knife going through butter, before he unleashed a thunderbolt of a shot from 20 yards out which almost ripped the back of the net off its fastenings.  England went on to win the game 3-1 with the German press nicknaming Edwards “Boom Boom” such was the accuracy and velocity of his strike at goal.  Back home he was simply known as “The Tank,” an apt description for an unmovable object who was a colossus of a footballer.  Roger Byrne also played in the win over West Germany whilst two other United players were unused substitutes: goalkeeper ray Wood and Johnny Berry.

On 29 April 1958, Murphy wrote to his trusted friend, Armstrong, to thank him for everything he had done post Munich.  Joe had been like a rock to Jimmy during the club’s darkest hours.  The letter reads:

My Dear Joe, 

Do hope all is well with your good self and Sally. 

I wish to sincerely thank you Joe for all the grand work you have done for me. I really mean this, without you around I could not have carried on. 

As you know there are a hundred problems to sort out every day and you know the answer to most of them.

Have Enclosed 2 15/~ tickets which no doubt you will be able to use.

Jimmy

The two tickets were for the 1958 FA Cup final on 3 May 1958, which Murphy, aided by Armstrong, incredibly helped Manchester United reach just 86 days after the club’s darkest day when seven Busby Babes were killed instantly in the air crash in Munich on 6 February 1958, whilst an eighth Babe, unquestionably the greatest of them all, Duncan Edwards lost his own brave battle for life fifteen days after his teammates.

He fought for his life, you know.  He really fought. He was strong but, in the end, his injuries were too much.  With modern medicine, he would have been kept alive, but they told me he would never have been able to play football again.  And I don’t think he could have lived with that.” –Sarah Anne Edwards, Duncan’s Mum before her death in 2003

Duncan was well liked by all of his teammates.  They all knew he was a better player than them but Duncan never disrespected any of them.  If anything, he was like a junior coach to them, always willing and able to pass on a training tip or two.  Indeed, a few days before he flew to Belgrade, the manuscript of his book entitled “Tackle Soccer This Way,” was delivered to his publishers and it was later printed word for word as he wrote it.  In his book Duncan offers young players hundreds of football tips such as: “Always respect the referee and be reasonable at all times.”  Sound advice from such a young player himself. 

Johnny Giles (Manchester United 1959-63) Giles, once told a story about arriving in Manchester as a youngster from Dublin, Republic of Ireland in 1955 and taking the bus to Old Trafford with Joe Armstrong.  “As the bus stopped outside Old Trafford we got off and sitting on top of the post box waiting for his bus home eating an apple was Duncan Edwards. He was eighteen years of age, already an England international, and widely regarded as the best young footballer of his generation. He said ‘hello’ and then continued eating his apple.  That was Duncan.

More than 5,000 people turned up for Duncan’s funeral in Dudley on 26 February 1958, where a heartbroken and tearful Jimmy Murphy addressed the congregation and said: “If I shut my eyes I can see him now.  His pants hitched up, the wild leaps of boyish enthusiasm as he came running out of the tunnel, the tremendous power of his tackle – always fair but fearsome – the immense power on the ball.  In fact the number of times he was robbed of the ball once he had it at his feet could be counted on one hand. He was a players’ player.  The greatest English footballer of all time… that was Duncan Edwards.”

Duncan’s mother stood shoulder to shoulder with the thousands who turned out to pay their respects to her son, still her little boy aged just 21, as his cortege made its way to St. Francis’s Church, Dudley.  Back in Manchester, the United fans paid their own condolences to one of their own where it seemed like the sky was weeping for the loss of 8 young men.

Prior to the disaster, Duncan’s father worked at the local Beans Industries ­factory in Tipton, just a short work from the Edwards’ family home.  However, after Duncan’s death, Gladstone never went back to work in the factory.  Instead, he went to work at Dudley Cemetery where Duncan and his sister Carol Anne, who had died in 1947, aged just 14 weeks, were buried.  His job was to maintain and clean the gravestones including those of his daughter and son.

In 1961, Matt Busby unveiled a stained glass window in St. Francis’ Church which depict Duncan in his Manchester United and England shirts.  There is also a coat of arms of Manchester United and Munich.  Tens of thousands of United fans have visited the Church to view these memorials whilst many fans travel to Munich every year on the anniversary of the disaster.  Duncan’s grave lies in Section C, Plot 722 of Dudley Cemetery and more than 63 years later, there are fresh flowers laid at his grave every day which has a six-foot black granite headstone. The headstone bears an engraving of Duncan taking a throw in and, on the grave, is a black granite vase and another vase in the shape of a football.  There are usually a fresh bunch of red and white carnations filling the black granite vase.  John Phillips, Dudley Borough Council’s Assistant Cemeteries and Crematorium Manager, said: “Visitors come to the grave all through the year. It is still a shrine. It is hard to put a figure on the numbers who come here each year. It’s not only individuals who come to stand in silent respect at the grave, but whole parties, as if on a pilgrimage.”

The bigger the occasion, the better he (Duncan) liked it.” – Sir Matt Busby

There is also a permanent Exhibition dedicated in memory of Duncan Edwards in Dudley, The Duncan Edwards Museum, which features his trophies, medals and newspaper cuttings.  His England caps and shirts are on display in the Old Trafford Museum.  On the top step reads the name of captain Roger Byrne.  Inside the museum takes you through Duncan’s early life from 23 Malvern Street to 31 Elm Road; the walls are filled with original photos of his favourite footballers from the 1940s and hanging from the bed is a gas mask, reminding people this lad grew up when the world was still at war.  There is a dedicated area to the Munich tragedy and a memorabilia-filled cabinet dedicated to each of the Busby Babes. The museum also covers Duncan’s time performing National Service with many testimonies, including from Walter Winterbottom, who described Duncan: “as the spirit of British football.”  It was Winterbottom who awarded Duncan all 18 of his senior England caps.  Also featured is the Coronation Street creator Tony Warren who was Duncan’s friend, together the pair jived in the dance halls of 1950s Manchester.

During the 1956-57 season, several of Busby’s young stars, notably Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards, were encouraged by their manager to follow in his footsteps and do their National Service. Charlton aged 19 and Edwards aged a year older like many professional footballers from the Midlands and north-west, were posted to Nesscliffe, Shropshire and played for the Nesscliffe Army Royal Army Ordnance Corps football team.

Duncan finished his National Service in 1957 and Bobby left Nesscliffe in 1958.

Prior to the 60th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster Derek Thorpe, who served with the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry at Copthorne Barracks, Shrewsbury was asked about his memories of the famous United pair when he played against them. “Because they were just up the road from us, we would play each other a lot. They were a cut above the rest. They had a lot of players from different clubs, there was a player from Everton, and another one from Blackpool,” said Derek who himself was a nippy winger. Derek recalled one game in particular between the two army sides when his sergeant-major warned his team that the Nesscliffe lads had a few tasty players in their side. Not long into the game Derek was bearing down on goal when he was dispossessed by a strapping defender. Derek immediately set about paying his opponent back saying: “He tackled me early on, and I thought ‘I’ll get have you next time’. I didn’t half know about, I landed about two yards further up the pitch than I did the first time.” The player was none other than Edwards who was already a leading figure in the United side and had been capped by England three times. Derek said he was in total awe of the power, skill and speed of the Busby Babe. “Him and Bobby Charlton were both in the same team, and they really stood out. I thought Duncan Edwards was better than Bobby Charlton, and I later read that Bobby Charlton also thought he was. They were such great lads. Duncan was from Dudley, and I was from Dawley, so the lingo was pretty similar. After he had knocked me flying with his tackle, he came over to me, and said ‘you all right, kid?‘”

Brian Griffiths who played at full back for Shrewsbury Town also played for the Nesscliffe Army Royal Army Ordnance Corps football team. Charlton arrived at the Nesscliffe depot shortly after Brian and the pair were in the same platoon, 3 Platoon, and they shared the same platoon billet. “Duncan was already there. He was a PTI, a physical training instructor. He was a corporal. We had a good old natter and he explained everything to us. I knew him as Dunc. He was a smashing lad. He was big, and so gentle, and yet when he said something, you automatically did it. He was not aggressive, and his football capabilities were just unbelievable,” said Brian. The platoon trained at Shropshire Racecourse, Monkmoor Road, Shrewsbury. “We would do the normal training the soldiers did – marching, ammunition and so on – and then after that the footballers would do the football training. We were all mates and it was a good atmosphere,” said Brian. Charlton played at inside forward or centre forward but Brian recalls that it took Edwards to get the best out of his United teammate. “Bobby does owe Dunc quite a lot. Over the time I knew him he improved to A1. He did not use his body, like a defender does. He was always looking to try and pass people, even if they had the ball. He had no aggression – we used to say to him: ‘Bloody get in!’” added Brian.

Derek was impressed with how the Busby Babes slotted in very easily to army life, and got on with all the other soldiers during their Shropshire army days. “They were great lads, they really were. You could talk to them easily, it was just normal army chat. At one point I was injured, and I finished up in the medical centre at Nesscliffe, and I remember Duncan and Bobby Charlton coming to visit me. They mucked in with everything and they never thought they were any higher than anybody else,” added Derek.

There is also a Duncan Edwards Close, a Duncan Edwards Way and a Duncan Edwards Games Area, which was opened by Sir Bobby Charlton in 2006.

In 2002, Duncan Edwards was inducted into the inaugural English Football Hall of Fame at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

During his career he played 177 times for Manchester United and scored 21 goals (1953-58). Between 1949-52, he represented England Schoolboys on 9 occasions: played 4 games for the England “B” team from 1953-54: was awarded 6 England Under-23 caps from 1954-57, scoring 5 times and was capped at full international level 18 times and scored 5 goals (1955-57).

Many football pundits have said that had Duncan survived the Munich Air Disaster and was able to play again after recovering from his injuries, then it would have been him, and not Bobby Moore, who captained England to Fifa World Cup glory in 1966.  Bobby was 25 when England defeated West Germany 4-2 in the final at Wembley Stadium on 30 July 1966, whilst Duncan would have been 29.

When I used to hear Muhammad Ali proclaim to the world that he was the greatest, I would always smile.  The greatest of them all was a footballer named Duncan Edwards.” – Jimmy Murphy

For all Manchester United fans everywhere, Duncan Edwards is a Light that will never go out.

Did You Know That?

Speaking before her own death in 2003, Duncan’s mother, Sara Anne, recalled her son’s last words to her which were: “Come on Mum, get me home.  I can’t miss Wolves on Saturday.”  

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