Byrne in May 1957
|Full name||Roger William Byrne|
|Date of birth||8 February 1929|
|Place of birth||Gorton, Manchester, Lancashire, England|
|Date of death||6 February 1958(aged 28)|
|Place of death||Munich, Bavaria, West Germany|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Playing position||Full back|
|Ryder Brow Boys Club|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
Roger William Byrne (8 February 1929 – 6 February 1958) was an English footballer and captain of Manchester United. He died at the age of 28 in the Munich air disaster. He was one of the eight Manchester United players that lost their lives in the disaster, on 6 February 1958. He made 33 appearances for the England national team.
Life and career
Byrne was born in February 1929 in the Gorton district of Manchester, the only child of William Henry Byrne (1894–1972) and Jessie Byrne (1899–1986). Before making his debut for the Manchester United first team, Byrne undertook National Service in the Royal Air Force.
Byrne was captain of Manchester United from the 1955–56 season onwards. He captained the side through the legendary Busby Babes era, playing as a left-sided full back of the traditional style. He had previously been fielded at wing half and outside left and it was a testament to his versatility that, despite being naturally right sided, he should have been a success in a variety of positions.
Byrne was never considered the most gifted of footballers. His tackling could be suspect and his aerial ability was described as no better than average, but his incredible work ethic and footballing intelligence allowed him to position himself and react to danger swiftly. Innovatively, he was also adept at making forward runs and joining attacks at a time when full-backs were expected only to stand back and defend. Perhaps his best asset was his ability to inspire players with his charismatic leadership. Even more than half a century after his death, he is still regarded as one of Manchester United's greatest captains. He earned league-winner's medals in 1952, 1956 and 1957, and was an FA Cup runner-up to Aston Villa in 1957.
Byrne was also a regular member of Walter Winterbottom's England team during the 1950s and was considered a possible captain of the national team after the retirement of the incumbent captain, Billy Wright. His total of 33 England caps were all won in consecutive fixtures. He appeared in every England international from his debut against Scotland in April 1954 to his last match against France in November 1957. This remains a record.
He was only 28 when he died in the Munich air disaster, and on arriving home he would have received the news that his wife Joy was expecting their first child. They had only married the previous year.He was also survived by both of his parents. Roger Byrne senior's funeral service was held at Flixton parish church and his body was then cremated.
Eight months after Byrne's death (October 1958), Roger Jr. was born, and during the late 1960s and early 1970s was a ball boy at Old Trafford. Roger Jr. died of cancer in December 2011 aged 53. He was living in Swindon, Wiltshire, and had been working in a senior role for the local council. He was survived by his mother, Joy, who by this stage was well into her seventies.
Some years after his death, a street on a new housing development near Manchester city centre was named after him – Roger Byrne Close. Other roads and paths on the estate include Tommy Taylor Close, Eddie Colman Close, Mark Jones Walk, Billy Whelan Walk and David Pegg Walk, as well as a housing complex called Duncan Edwards Court, all of which are named after other players who died at Munich.
His biography, Roger Byrne, Captain of the Busby Babes, written by Iain McCartney, was published on 2 December 2000. The 2011 television drama United centred on the successes of the Busby Babes and the decimation of the team in the Munich air disaster, wrongly named Mark Jones as the captain of the team, while Byrne was not a credited member of the cast.
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- Several sources report his date of birth as 8 September 1929, they include :
- Arthur, Max: "The Busby Babes : Men of Magic", page 115. Mainstream Publishing, 1998
- Roberts, J: "The Team That Wouldn't Die – The Story of the Busby Babes", page 70. Methuen, 1988;
- Arthur, M: "The Manchester United Aircrash", page 16. Mainstream Publishing, 1983.
- A 25th Anniversary Commemorative edition of the Manchester Evening News, entitled "We Remember: Munich 1958–1983", also states on page 9 that Byrne was born in September 1929.
- Roger Byrne
- "Tributes pour in for 'true gent' son of Busby Babe". Swindon Advertiser (Newsquest (Oxfordshire & Wiltshire)). 2 December 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- Conn, David (21 April 2010). "FC United homage to history as they prepare for future at Newton Heath". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- Roger Byrne Captain of the Busby Babes A Biography by Iain McCartney
- Wollaston, Sam (24 April 2011). "TV review: Doctor Who; United". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media). Retrieved 25 April 2011.
- "Roger Byrne". StretfordEnd.co.uk. Retrieved 27 August 2012.
- Manchester United stats
- Munich Air Disaster: Roger Byrne's son on the father he lost
|Manchester United captain