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Harry Gregg: Man United legends will join funeral mourners

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All smiles: Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Gregg enjoy each other’s company

All smiles: Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Gregg enjoy each other’s company

All smiles: Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Gregg enjoy each other’s company

Senior figures from Manchester United will be among the mourners at the funeral of Harry Gregg on Friday.

The legendary goalkeeper, a hero of the Munich air disaster of 1958 that decimated the famous 'Busby Babes' and killed 23 people, died yesterday aged 87.

His funeral will be held in St Patrick's Parish Church in Coleraine.

A delegation from Manchester United, the club he played for more than 200 times, will be at the service. It is expected to include Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson.

Gregg, who was born in Tobermore near Magherafelt, Co Londonderry, was an outstanding club and international goalkeeper, but is best remembered for his bravery at Munich.

The crash, on February 6, 1958, happened on United's return from a European Cup tie in Belgrade. Gregg returned to the burning wreckage to drag team-mates and strangers to safety.

Sir Bobby Charlton - one of those rescued along with a 20-month-old baby and her badly injured, pregnant mother - paid tribute to the former Northern Ireland international, saying he was "deeply saddened" by his death.

"Harry Gregg was a fantastic goalkeeper but more importantly an incredible human being. I was proud to call him a team-mate," the United and England legend said.

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

Harry Gregg life and career [photos] Close

Harry Gregg

Harry Gregg

Harry Gregg was described as a ‘most reluctant hero’ by Sir Alex Ferguson (PA)

Harry Gregg was described as a ‘most reluctant hero’ by Sir Alex Ferguson (PA)

<b>37 Harry's game.. the last one (v Scotland 12/10/1963)
Harry Gregg will forever be regarded as one of the greatest players Northern Ireland has ever had. He was an inspirational goalkeeper for the great Peter Doherty's outstanding side that reached the World Cup finals in 1958 and was seen as a true Windsor Park hero. It was fitting then that his last international appearance at the ground ended in a victory. Taking on Scotland in the British Championship, Gregg, winning his 24th cap out of 25, made vital saves as Northern Ireland won 2-1.

<b>37 Harry's game.. the last one (v Scotland 12/10/1963) Harry Gregg will forever be regarded as one of the greatest players Northern Ireland has ever had. He was an inspirational goalkeeper for the great Peter Doherty's outstanding side that reached the World Cup finals in 1958 and was seen as a true Windsor Park hero. It was fitting then that his last international appearance at the ground ended in a victory. Taking on Scotland in the British Championship, Gregg, winning his 24th cap out of 25, made vital saves as Northern Ireland won 2-1.

Northern Ireland and Manchester United goalkeeper, Harry Gregg, dives to save the ball during the international soccer match between Northern Ireland and Scotland at Windsor Park, Belfast, in this Oct. 3, 1959 file photo. Gregg was a reliable goalkeeper who played in 48 shutouts for Manchester United. When he climbed into the wreckage of a smashed up plane at Munich airport 50 years ago, Gregg was saving lives instead of shots.

Northern Ireland and Manchester United goalkeeper, Harry Gregg, dives to save the ball during the international soccer match between Northern Ireland and Scotland at Windsor Park, Belfast, in this Oct. 3, 1959 file photo. Gregg was a reliable goalkeeper who played in 48 shutouts for Manchester United. When he climbed into the wreckage of a smashed up plane at Munich airport 50 years ago, Gregg was saving lives instead of shots.

Football:Northern Ireland 1957. Alf McMichael (second left back row) was a member of the Northern Ireland team which lost 1-0 to Italy in a World Cup tie at the Olympic Stadium, Rome in April 1957. FRONT: (from left) Jimmy McIlroy, Bertie Peacock, Eddie mcMorran, Danny Blanchflower, Billy Bingham, Wilbur Cush. BACK: Billy Simpson, Alfie McMichael, Harry Gregg, Willie Cunningham and Tommy Casey.

Football:Northern Ireland 1957. Alf McMichael (second left back row) was a member of the Northern Ireland team which lost 1-0 to Italy in a World Cup tie at the Olympic Stadium, Rome in April 1957. FRONT: (from left) Jimmy McIlroy, Bertie Peacock, Eddie mcMorran, Danny Blanchflower, Billy Bingham, Wilbur Cush. BACK: Billy Simpson, Alfie McMichael, Harry Gregg, Willie Cunningham and Tommy Casey.

Pic Shows: Photographs of the Manchester Utd Team playing Red Star Belgrade before the Munich Air Crash in which many of the Manchester United team died. Pic (C) Stuart Clarke.

Pic Shows: Photographs of the Manchester Utd Team playing Red Star Belgrade before the Munich Air Crash in which many of the Manchester United team died. Pic (C) Stuart Clarke.

William (Willie) Cunningham:Football/Northern Ireland, entering the stadium followed by Harry Gregg

William (Willie) Cunningham:Football/Northern Ireland, entering the stadium followed by Harry Gregg

Harry is interviewed after the crash

Harry is interviewed after the crash

The Munich air disaster

The Munich air disaster

FOOTBALL TEAMS: MANCHESTER UNITED: MUNICH AIR DISASTER.

FOOTBALL TEAMS: MANCHESTER UNITED: MUNICH AIR DISASTER.

Pic Shows: Verena and Vesna Lukic who were pulled from the wreckage of the Munich aircrash in 1958 by Harry Gregg the Man Utd Goalkeeper. Many of the Busby Babes were killed. (Collect of  Verena recovering in Clinic in Munich after Crash)Pic: Stuart Clarke.

Pic Shows: Verena and Vesna Lukic who were pulled from the wreckage of the Munich aircrash in 1958 by Harry Gregg the Man Utd Goalkeeper. Many of the Busby Babes were killed. (Collect of Verena recovering in Clinic in Munich after Crash)Pic: Stuart Clarke.

Harry Gregg

Harry Gregg

Pic Shows: Harry Gregg meeting the Lukic family at thier flat in Belgrade, Mother Vera, daughter Vesna and son Zoran, 50 years after the air crash in which many of the Manchester United team died. Pic (C) Stuart Clarke.

Pic Shows: Harry Gregg meeting the Lukic family at thier flat in Belgrade, Mother Vera, daughter Vesna and son Zoran, 50 years after the air crash in which many of the Manchester United team died. Pic (C) Stuart Clarke.

Harry Gregg outside the old terminal building. (runway)

Harry Gregg outside the old terminal building. (runway)

Handout photo supplied by Manchester United via Getty Images of Harry Gregg during the memorial service to mark the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster at Old Trafford in Manchester. Pic: John Peters/Manchester United/PA Wire

Handout photo supplied by Manchester United via Getty Images of Harry Gregg during the memorial service to mark the 50th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster at Old Trafford in Manchester. Pic: John Peters/Manchester United/PA Wire

PA

Harry Gregg with a local farmer who was one of the first people on the
scene of the crash

Harry Gregg with a local farmer who was one of the first people on the scene of the crash

Harry Gregg the former Manchester Utd Goalkeeper sitting in the stands of Red Star Belgrade 50 years after the air crash in which many of the Manchester United team died. Pic (C) Stuart Clarke.

Harry Gregg the former Manchester Utd Goalkeeper sitting in the stands of Red Star Belgrade 50 years after the air crash in which many of the Manchester United team died. Pic (C) Stuart Clarke.

Attending the launch of the Northern Ireland Boys Football Association and Belfast City Council  Mallusk Football Festival were Harry Gregg and Bertie Peacock who helped make the draw for opposing teams in the opening rounds. Picture By Rick Hewitt. 26/8/03.

Attending the launch of the Northern Ireland Boys Football Association and Belfast City Council Mallusk Football Festival were Harry Gregg and Bertie Peacock who helped make the draw for opposing teams in the opening rounds. Picture By Rick Hewitt. 26/8/03.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th January 2009 -   Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Magners.
Alan Simpson from BBC and Harry Gregg.
Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th January 2009 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Magners. Alan Simpson from BBC and Harry Gregg. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th January 2009 -   Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Magners.
11. Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame 
Winner : Harry Gregg pictured with Sporting celebrity: Pat Jennings to present the award
Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
///MUST USE ///  MUST USE///

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th January 2009 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Magners. 11. Belfast Telegraph Hall of Fame Winner : Harry Gregg pictured with Sporting celebrity: Pat Jennings to present the award Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye. ///MUST USE /// MUST USE///

Northern Ireland and Manchester United legend Harry Gregg

Northern Ireland and Manchester United legend Harry Gregg

Harry Gregg has died aged 87 (David Young/PA)

Harry Gregg has died aged 87 (David Young/PA)

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - 

The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony

Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

Golfer Rory McIlroy shares a joke with NI Football legend Harry Gregg pictured at the National Football Stadium

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Golfer Rory McIlroy shares a joke with NI Football legend Harry Gregg pictured at the National Football Stadium Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 5th July 2017 

Rory Mcliroy meets with Harry Gregg at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation Invitational Pro-Am at Portstewart Golf Club, Co.Derry / Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Picture by Matt Mackey / presseye.com

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 5th July 2017 Rory Mcliroy meets with Harry Gregg at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation Invitational Pro-Am at Portstewart Golf Club, Co.Derry / Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Picture by Matt Mackey / presseye.com

Saturday 21st  July 2018
Supercup NI match between Celtic u19's and Manchester United u19's at Coleraine Showgrounds.
 Manchester United legend Phil Neville pictured at tonights game presenting Harry Gregg
Mandatory Credit: Stephen Hamilton /Presseye

Saturday 21st July 2018 Supercup NI match between Celtic u19's and Manchester United u19's at Coleraine Showgrounds. Manchester United legend Phil Neville pictured at tonights game presenting Harry Gregg Mandatory Credit: Stephen Hamilton /Presseye

Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye 
Goal keeping Legends Harry Gregg and Pat Jennings attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier
Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 -Picture by Brian Little/PressEye Goal keeping Legends Harry Gregg and Pat Jennings attending The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony before Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Brian Little/ Press Eye

Presseye Northern Ireland - 15th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye

Harry Gregg Testimonial - Irish League XI v Manchester United

Manchester United legend Harry Gregg  shakes hands with Jonny Evans before his emotional Testimonial at Windsor Park.

Presseye Northern Ireland - 15th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Harry Gregg Testimonial - Irish League XI v Manchester United Manchester United legend Harry Gregg shakes hands with Jonny Evans before his emotional Testimonial at Windsor Park.

©William Cherry/Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th January 2009 -   Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Magners.
Former soccer stars Harry Gregg and Pat Jennings with the BBC's Alan Simpson.
Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th January 2009 - Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Magners. Former soccer stars Harry Gregg and Pat Jennings with the BBC's Alan Simpson. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

Presseye Northern Ireland - 15th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye

Harry Gregg Testimonial - Irish League XI v Manchester United

Manchester United legend Harry Gregg  before his emotional Testimonial at Windsor Park.

Presseye Northern Ireland - 15th May 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Harry Gregg Testimonial - Irish League XI v Manchester United Manchester United legend Harry Gregg before his emotional Testimonial at Windsor Park.

©William Cherry/Presseye

Harry Gregg, who picked up the Hall of Fame Award with fellow legendary goalkeeper Pat Jennings last night

Harry Gregg, who picked up the Hall of Fame Award with fellow legendary goalkeeper Pat Jennings last night

Jackie Fullerton interviews Harry Gregg and Pat Jennings at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Magners in the Ramada, Belfast

Jackie Fullerton interviews Harry Gregg and Pat Jennings at the Belfast Telegraph Sports Awards sponsored by Magners in the Ramada, Belfast

Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Gregg share a joke at the Windsor Park testimonial game last year

Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Gregg share a joke at the Windsor Park testimonial game last year

�� Man Utd via Getty Images

Legend: Harry Gregg

Legend: Harry Gregg

Derek Simpson: www.sportfile.co.

Survivor and hero: Manchester United legend Harry Gregg

Survivor and hero: Manchester United legend Harry Gregg

Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016

Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast.

 Northern Ireland football stars Pat Jennings and Harry Gregg help Jay and Ellie cut the ribbon to official open the new stadium for the fans.

Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye

Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 7th October 2016 Northern Ireland v San Marino at the National Stadium, Belfast. Northern Ireland football stars Pat Jennings and Harry Gregg help Jay and Ellie cut the ribbon to official open the new stadium for the fans. Photographer - © Matt Mackey / Press Eye

Harry Gregg meets World champion boxer Carl Frampton at the opening of Windsor Park

Harry Gregg meets World champion boxer Carl Frampton at the opening of Windsor Park

Beaming: Harry Gregg

Beaming: Harry Gregg

Harry Gregg has been awarded an OBE (Paul Faith/PA)

Harry Gregg has been awarded an OBE (Paul Faith/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Harry Gregg, who survived the Manchester United Munich air disaster, has died aged 87 (Paul Faith/PA)

Harry Gregg, who survived the Manchester United Munich air disaster, has died aged 87 (Paul Faith/PA)

Harry Gregg

Former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson called Harry "a man of great character and a true legend".

"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," said Sir Alex. "I loved his company and the many pieces of advice he gave me."

First Minister Arlene Foster led the tributes from Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster said she was "so sorry" to hear of his passing, adding: "What a life. What a story."

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey added: "Harry was a sporting icon and a hero to many. As well as a historic sporting career, he more recently through the Harry Gregg Foundation helped promote positive changes and opportunities for our local communities."

The Northern Ireland national team tweeted: "A legend of the game and a brave, selfless giant of a man. RIP, Harry Gregg."

George Best's sister Barbara McNarry and her husband Norman sent a tribute.

They said: "We are both deeply saddened to learn that Harry has passed away. Harry had a soft spot for George and was always fiercely defensive of him in private and, more importantly, in public."

Ex-Manchester United star and Northern Ireland boss Sammy McIlroy said Gregg's actions during the Munich air disaster "summed up the man".

"Brave as a lion, and brave as a lion off the field as well," said McIlroy. "A fantastic character."

TV personality Eamonn Holmes, a Manchester United fan, said: "You're looking at a hero, here. I used to tell him he looked like Clint Eastwood. But our Harry was the real deal."

Announcing his death yesterday, the Harry Gregg Foundation said: "Harry passed away peacefully in hospital surrounded by his loving family."

Harry Gregg OBE was the dearly loved husband of Carolyn; much-loved father of Linda, Julie, Jane, Suzanne, John-Henry and the late Karen; and a dear father-in-law, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Belfast Telegraph