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Former Carlisle United manager Harry Gregg dies, aged 87

Harry Gregg dies at the age of 87. Credit: PA

Former Carlisle United manager Harry Gregg - dubbed the "Hero of Munich" - has died at the age of 87.

His death was announced by the Harry Gregg Foundation on Monday morning.

"It is with great sorrow that we inform of the death of Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend Harry Gregg, OBE," it said in a statement posted on Facebook.

"Harry passed away peacefully in hospital surrounded by his loving family."

Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg makes a flying save. Credit: PA

The Northern Irish goalkeeper managed Carlisle United from 1986 to 1987.

Carlisle United tweeted: "He was the Hero of Munich - returning to the plane repeatedly to help others in what he described as a ‘spur of the moment’ action. Thoughts with the family and friends of former manager Harry Gregg this morning."

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Community Sports Trust manager John Halpin, who played under Gregg, said: “Harry was such a strong character, but that made him a very good manager to work for.

“He’d played and worked at the highest levels with the best players and coaches in the world, and that meant he had a very defined set of ideas, thoughts and views, and he stuck to them faithfully.

“The other thing we all knew was that if we had a problem in our personal lives he was there for us. He would listen and help in whatever way he could. That earned him a huge amount of respect right through the squad.

“I know after he left the club that he often spoke about the fact that he felt all he needed was a bit more time. When I think back, he was such a progressive thinker. He believed in finding and developing youth and it was him who brought the whole Centre of Excellence concept to the club.

“He was a good man and it’s sad to hear of this news today.”

Harry Gregg survived the Manchester United Munich Air Disaster. Credit: PA

Gregg was a survivor of the Munich Air Disaster on February 6, 1958, in which 23 people were killed.

He twice returned to the burning fuselage to drag team-mates and strangers to safety.

He rescued United team-mates Bobby Charlton and Dennis Viollet from the BEA Flight 609, as well as a 20-month old baby and her badly injured, pregnant mother.

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Gregg was awarded an OBE in the 2019 New Year Honours. He leaves behind five children, including four with second wife Carolyn.

He was born in Tobermore in South Derry in October 1932 and was the eldest of six children.

By the time hw as 18, he was snapped up by Doncaster where he enjoyed five years before becoming the world's most expensive keeper. He spent nine years with the Red Devils.

Gregg remains a touchstone for United goalkeepers, a dominant leader between the posts and a revered shot stopper.

Gregg during his time at Doncaster Rovers, 1957. Credit: PA
247
games for Manchester United.

In all he played 247 times for Manchester United, including, incredibly, a 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday just 13 days after the Munich tragedy.

Of those who had been on duty in Belgrade before the fatal crash, only Gregg and Bill Foulkes wore the jersey in that emotional fixture less than two weeks later.

He eventually left Old Trafford for a brief period for Stoke and then a managerial career followed, with time spent at Shrewsbury, Swansea and Crewe.

Carlisle United has announced that they will be holding a minute's silence ahead of this weekend’s home game against Morecambe in memory of the "Hero of Munich."