Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was among the figures at Old Trafford on Tuesday as the club held a ceremony on the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.
Ferguson joined the likes of United great Bobby Charlton, a survivor of the crash, the current playing squad and boss Jose Mourinho at a special service at the club’s stadium.
Meanwhile, thousands of fans travelled to Germany to pay their respects at the site of the crash, in which 23 people, including eight players, were killed.
United captain Michael Carrick and Mourinho laid wreaths on stage after readings from Ferguson, executive vice chairman Ed Woodward and club director Michael Edelson.
Charlton and Harry Gregg, the two remaining survivors of the 1958 team who had been on the doomed flight, were also in attendance, as was FIFA president Gianni Infantino, Manchester City great Mike Summerbee and Liverpool hero Kenny Dalglish.
“It was very fitting, a beautiful service – powerful and emotional,” Carrick told MUTV. “For me, it was emotional sitting next to Sir Bobby and trying to come to terms with what he’s been through and what was going through his mind.
“When I came to the club I was aware of it [the disaster], I’d heard the stories and my dad had told me about it, but it wasn’t until I came to the club that you have that feeling of what it means to everyone here and how important it is.
“It’s great that everyone could be here together today because we’re all in it together, it’s what makes this great club so special. It was such a tragic event and a very sad event, but it’s commemorated in such a great way and that carries on year after year and always will.”
United held a minute’s silence before their Premier League win over Huddersfield Town on Saturday in memory of the 23, who died when the plane transporting them back to England crashed after attempting to take off from Munich-Riem Airport in bad weather.
Club chaplain Reverend John Boyers led the service, which included hymns, prayers and a rendition of the ‘Flowers of Manchester’ poem, which was also sung in Munich, where Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and president Uli Hoeness were present.
Commemorative banners were hung outside the stadium and special placards placed along exterior walls to honour each of the fallen, while fans laid cards and flowers.
Silences were held at each venue at 1504GMT, marking the moment of the fatal crash in 1958, while United’s academy, led by coach Nicky Butt, held a tribute at the home of Red Star Belgrade and the city’s Hotel Majestic, where the ‘Busby Babes’ stayed after their final match before the tragedy.
Red Star were among the clubs to tweet a message of solidarity on Tuesday, along with fierce rivals City and Liverpool, while a tribute was displayed at Wembley.