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How Real Madrid helped rebuild Manchester United after the Munich Disaster

13 Feb 2013, 21:15 IST
Matt Busby after winning the European Cup

Matt Busby after winning the European Cup

The story goes that Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby and the esteemed Madrid president Santiago Bernabeu were good friends and respected each other’s teams. It’s no secret that Bernabeu tried to get Matt Busby for the managerial position at Real Madrid, only for the Scot to refuse due to his love for Manchester United. The two sides would go on to have many enthralling contests, all played in the right spirit.

Following the Munich disaster in February 1958, Bernabeu took special interest in Sir Matt Busby’s broken team, and helped the struggling Manchester side to rebuild, through his various acts of generosity. Here’s some of Bernabeu and Real Madrid’s many acts of magnanimity towards the red side of Manchester.

- Real Madrid won the Champions League edition during which the Munich disaster occurred. Santiago Bernabeu dedicated the win to Sir Matt Busby’s fallen comrades and even offered them the trophy, a request that was turned down by Sir Matt Busby.

- Real Madrid even offered the services of their legendary player and superstar at the time, Alfredo di Stefano, to Manchester United for the 1958-59 season. However, the move broke down after the FA intervened.

- Real Madrid arranged a host of friendlies aimed at generating money for the financially unstable Manchester United side. One of those friendlies was played in October 1959 in front of 63000 fans at Old Trafford. Madrid won the match 6-1 in front with terrific performances from Di Stefano, Puskas and Francisco Gento.

- Sir Matt Busby’s Manchester United eventually achieved their dream by winning the 1968 European Cup. On their way to the coveted trophy, they beat Real Madrid in the semifinals. Gracious as ever, Bernabeu said, “If it had to be anyone, then I am glad it was them.”

More information on the same can be found in John Ludden’s book ‘A Tale of Two Cities: Manchester and Madrid 1957-1968′.

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