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Duncan Edwards

Duncan Edwards (October 1, 1936 - February 21, 1958) was an English international footballer. Born in Dudley, he signed for Manchester United in June 1952 as an amateur and turned professional on October 1, 1953. He was one of the Busby Babes, the young United team formed under manager Matt Busby in the mid 1950s, and one of the eight United players who perished in the Munich air disaster. It has been claimed by those who saw Edwards play that had he not died young, he would have gone on to become one of the all-time football greats.

Early years

He was born at 1 Malvern Crescent, in the Woodside area of Dudley, but spent most of his childhood living at 31 Elm Road on the Priory Estate, also in Dudley. He attended Priory Primary School and Wolverhampton Street Secondary School, and was a key player in both schools' teams. The young Duncan Edwards became a schoolboy international in 1950, where he immediately came to the attention of the major clubs. Joe Mercer, who was then coaching England schoolboys, remarked to Matt Busby that he thought the young player was 'going to be some player'. On hearing this, Busby dispatched his trusted chief scout Joe Armstrong to see Edwards play. After just 10 minutes Armstrong had seen enough and recommended that Busby go to Dudley himself. The following week, Busby went to watch him play and told Jimmy Murphy that United must not miss out on signing him. After watching him for 2 years, United made their move to sign him on his 16th birthday - 1 October 1952.

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Football career

On April 4, 1953, he became the youngest footballer to play in the Football League First Division, making his debut versus Cardiff City. At the age of 16 years and 183 days, he made his international debut in a match against Scotland on 2 April 1955, and became England's youngest post-war debutant, a record presently held by Theo Walcott. Edwards made 175 appearances for Manchester United F.C., scoring 21 goals and winning 18 caps for England, scoring 5 goals.

Duncan Edwards
Personal information
Full name Duncan Edwards
Date of birth October 1, 1936
Place of birth    Dudley, England
Date of death    February 21, 1958 (aged 21)
Place of death    Munich, Germany
Playing position Wing Half
Senior clubs1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1953-1958 Manchester United 151 (20)   
National team
1955-1958 England 018 0(5)
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

The Munich air disaster

On 6 February 1958, the aeroplane carrying Edwards and his team mates home from a European Cup away match against Red Star Belgrade crashed on takeoff after a refuelling stop in Munich. Seven of his team mates and 15 other passengers died, and Edwards was badly injured; injuries included multiple leg fractures and severely damaged kidneys. The doctors treating him were confident that he stood some chance of recovery, but were doubtful whether he would ever be able to play again.[1]

Fight for life

Doctors had an artificial kidney rushed to the hospital for him the following day, but the artificial kidney reduced his blood's ability to clot and he began to bleed internally. Doctors were "amazed" at his fight for life.[2] However, his condition worsened and he died in the Rechts der Isar Hospital, in Munich on 21 February. He was buried at Dudley Cemetery five days later, and his grave is visited regularly by football fans. He is buried with his sister Carol Anne, who died in 1947 at the age of 14 weeks. His Tomb Stone Reads: "A Day of Memory, Sad to recall, Without Farewell He left us all".

Recognition of Talent

In recognition of his obvious talents Edwards was made an Inaugural Inductee to the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Legacy and Appraisal

Duncan Edwards was and is still admired by all those who knew him. Bobby Charlton, England's all time top scoring player, claimed that he wasn't fit to lace Duncan's boots, and that he "was the only player that made me feel inferior". In fact the only player who can possibly match Edwards since has been Roy Keane according to Bobby Charlton. The former England manager Terry Venables watched him play against his beloved Tottenham Hotspur as a youngster and said he was the greatest player he had ever seen. Edward's Manchester United team mate Wilf McGuinness holds him in similar regard, and commenting on the Munich air crash stated: "We definitely did lose one of the all-time greats". The former Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty said of Edwards: "You can keep all your Bests, Peles and Maradonas - Duncan Edwards was the greatest of them all". The great Sir Matt Busby described him as "the best player in the world".

Such was Edwards' potential brilliance that it has even been claimed that had he lived on it would have been him, not Bobby Moore, who lifted the World Cup trophy as England captain in 1966.

In his home town of Dudley he is commemorated in the stained-glass window of St Francis's Church and in October 1999 a statue of Edwards, resplendent in his England kit, was unveiled in the town centre.

A pub on the Priory Estate was renamed the Duncan Edwards in honour of him in 2001, but it closed within five years and was subsequently destroyed by arsonists.


According to those who experienced what Duncan Edwards could do on a football field, he was the complete footballer and there wasn't a single weakness in his game.He had unrivalled stamina and could have run for days. He could shoot powerfully, with either foot, was dominant in the air and could tackle very well, and was also a good passer.


"The only player who made me feel inferior was Duncan Edwards. If I had to play for my life and could take one man with me, it would be him." Bobby Charlton


McCartney, Iain (2004). Duncan Edwards — The Final Report. Britespot Publishing Solutions Ltd. ISBN 1-904103-29-4. 


  1. ^  Duncan Edwards — The Final Report 114.
  2. ^  Duncan Edwards — The Final Report 116.

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