The Northern Ireland Assembly debated the sad passing of Harry Gregg this afternoon in the Chamber.
It followed Speakers Business, Tributes to Former Members.
Maurice Bradley MLA said:
“It was great sadness that I remember former Northern Ireland and Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg, who passed away on Sunday evening at the age of 87. Harry passed away peacefully in Causeway Hospital surrounded by his loving family.
“Harry Gregg survived the 1958 Munich air crash Harry was often referred to as the ‘Hero of Munich’ after pulling passengers and team-mates free from the burning wreckage.
“It was a tragedy, in which 23 people died.
“On that fateful night on February 6, 1958, the plane carrying the team back from Belgrade crashed in a blizzard after refuelling at Munich.
“United were returning from a European Cup game when the airplane they were travelling crashed while attempting to take off on the slush-covered runway. Harry Gregg escaped from the burning wreckage but went back in and brought out Vera Lukic, the pregnant wife of a Yugoslav diplomat, and her young daughter, Vesna, to safety as well injured colleagues Bobby Charlton, Dennis Violet, including giving aid to Matt Busby and fellow Northern Ireland international Jackie Blanchflower
“Gregg was born on 27 October 1932 in Tobermore, and the family moved to 34 Windsor Avenue in the town, a stone’s throw from Coleraine Showgrounds where he excelled after starting his career at Linfield playing for their reserve team.
“Harry Gregg was a member of Sir Matt Busby’s team of talented youngsters, who were nicknamed the Busby Babes, having joined United from Doncaster in December 1957 for £23,000 – a then world record fee for a goalkeeper.
“In an age where the words heroes and legends are bandied about loosely,
“In an age where the words heroes and legends are bandied about loosely, Harry was a true legend, and a true hero
“Not only was Harry a legend at Manchester United where he kept 48 clean sheets during his nine years at Old Trafford, also starred for Northern Ireland at the World Cup finals in Sweden in 1958, helping Northern Ireland reach the quarter-finals and he was named goalkeeper of the tournament. Harry often told me had manager Peter Doherty registered himself to play in that tournament, Northern Ierland could have gone on to semi-finals and perhaps won it.
“Harry was awarded the MBE in 1995, followed by an OBE in 2019.
“Harry was a straight talker, he told you it as he saw it. I spoke with him for the last time last Thursday, he recalled the visit he had from Arlene Foster, as First Minister as one of his fond memories.
“I loved listening to Harry recount his football memories, he described them in such detail, you would think you were present. He brought football to life with his knowledge and passion for the game
“I read a quote from Harry from 2008: – ‘I’m Henry Gregg, 34 Windsor Avenue, who played football. Who was useful at it on good days and rubbish at it on bad days’ That’s what I want to be remembered for – not something that happened on the spur of the moment’.
‘Harry will long be remembered for his love and passion for the game.
“He enjoyed watching young players coming through his Foundation, the Harry Gregg Foundation. That will be his legacy, that’s what Harry would like to be remembered for, his belief and passion for “The Beautiful Game”
“I extend my deepest sympathy to his wife Carolyn, son John, daughters Susie, Jane and Julie, the immediate family and extended family circle.”