Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer Harry Gregg has died aged 87.

Gregg - who survived the 1958 Munich air disaster - was a household name with 247 appearances in goal for Manchester United in the 50s and 60s.

He passed away peacefully in hospital surrounded by family.

A statement from the Harry Gregg Foundation said: “It is with great sorrow that we inform of the death of Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend Harry Gregg, OBE.

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

“The Gregg family would like to thank the medical staff at Causeway Hospital for their wonderful dedication to Harry over his last few weeks.

“To everyone who has called, visited or sent well wishes we thank you for the love and respect shown to Harry and the family.”

Gregg has been hailed as a hero since rescuing team mates from the wreckage of the Munich Air Disaster in 1958.

The 62nd anniversary was marked on 6 February this year, remembering the 23 people who died.

Gregg returned to the plane saving Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, Dennis Violet, a 20-month-year old baby and her badly injured, pregnant mother.

Thirteen days later, he played in a 3-0 victory for United against Sheffield Wednesday.

He spoke about his experience in a 1998 documentary.

Sir Bobby Charlton said in a statement on Manchester United's website: "Lady Norma and I are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Harry Gregg.

"I was proud to call him a team-mate. For all the matter of fact things Harrysaid about that night in Munich, for me, he will always be remembered as aheroic figure. It's incredible to think that he went on to play in a matchagainst Sheffield Wednesday just 13 days after that tragic night.

"A shining light both on and off the pitch. For so many reasons, he deservesto be remembered as one of the greatest names in Manchester United's history.

"Harry will be deeply missed and our thoughts are with Carolyn and his family at this very sad time."

Harry Gregg in action for Northern Ireland. Credit: Pacemaker

Sir Alex Ferguson, who took his United team to play in Gregg's testimonial in Belfast in 2012, said: "I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Harry Gregg.

"Harry was a man of great character and a true legend at our club. I remember that he was always very excited and proud to host our youth team at his boarding house for the Milk Cup every summer, so he could recount the tales of his playing days. I loved his company and the many pieces of advice he gave me.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Carolyn and his family at this very sadtime. God bless Harry."

He won 25 caps for Northern Ireland.