Belfast Telegraph

Statue to be erected to the hero of Munich Harry Gregg

BY Chris Kilpatrick

Hero goalkeeper Harry Gregg, whose name is linked forever with the Munich air crash, is to be immortalised in bronze.

Regarded as one of Northern Ireland’s greatest ever players, for many his heroism in the aftermath of the Munich Air Disaster — when he pulled fellow passengers from a burning aeroplane — far outweigh his remarkable sporting achievements.

Coleraine Borough Council will pave the way for a statue of the 80-year-old to be erected in the Co Londonderry town.

Mr Gregg’s close friend, broadcaster and ex-Irish league player Liam Beckett, was a driving force behind the sculpture.

“Harry is not only a local hero but a world star,” he said.

“He’s done enough in his career to warrant a statue in his home town, a place he is very proud of. He is a working-class boy done good and he has never forgotten his roots.

“Harry is one of the best footballers this country ever produced and is adored around the world. This is long overdue.”

As yet the venue for the sculpture has still to be decided.

Mr Gregg was once the most expensive goalkeeper in the world after Manchester United paid £23,000 to sign him in 1957. Months later he was part of the squad making its way back to England from Munich following a European Cup game in Belgrade.

On its third take-off attempt the plane crashed with the deaths of 23 of those on board.

Having escaped with a bloody nose, Harry went back into the wreckage to pull out those who were trapped including players Bobby Charlton, Jackie Blanchflower and Dennis Viollet.

Among others he helped were Vera Lukic, the pregnant wife of a Yugoslav diplomat and her daughter, Vesna, as well as his badly-injured manager Sir Matt Busby. Mr Gregg is humbled by the gesture, added Mr Beckett.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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