Sir Matt Busby

The original Red Devil and father to United's brightest Babes

Player Biography
Full name: Alexander Matthew Busby
Date of birth: May 26, 1909
Date of death: January 20, 1994
Clubs played for: Manchester City, Liverpool
Clubs managed: Manchester United
Matt Busby
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Matt Busby Jackie Blanchflower and Matt Busby, 1955 Manchester United, 1957 Norwich v Manchester United, 1959 Tommy Docherty, Graham Moore and Matt Busby, 1963 Manchester United 3-1 Leicester City, FA Cup Final, May 25 1963 Manchester United v Leicester, 1963 Tommy Docherty, Alex Stepney and Matt Busby, 1966 Matt Busby, 1967 Matt Busby Matt Busby Matt Busby, 1968 Matt Busby, 1968 Matt Busby, 1968 Matt Busby, 1968 Manchester United, 1968 Manchester United, 1968 Sir Matt Busby and Bobby Charlton, 1969 Bobby Charlton and Sir Matt Busby, 1969 George Best and Sir Matt Busby, 1969 Sir Matt Busby, 1969 Sir Matt Busby, 1969 Sir Matt Busby and Wilf McGuinness, 1969 Manchester-United-Sir-Matt-Busby cropped Sir Matt Busby and Bob Paisley, 1983 Sir Matt Busby Way
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Club Career

Busby signed for Manchester City as a 17-year-old in February 1928, making his debut 18 months later in a 3-1 win over Middlesbrough. He made more than 200 league appearances for the club before joining Liverpool for £8,000 in March 1936.

He played war time football for several clubs, but didn't return to Anfield after the hostilities ended.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1928-36 Manchester City 226 14
1936-39 Liverpool 118 3

International Career

He made only one official appearance for Scotland, against Wales in Cardiff in October 1933, losing 3-2. Although he played seven times for his country against England in war time internationals, these were not recognised in the official records.

International Career Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1933 Scotland 1 0

Managerial Career

After turning down the assistant manager post at Liverpool at the end of World War II, Busby was appointed boss of Manchester United in February 1945. He didn't officially begin his new role until October of that year, but it was worth the wait. His eventual 24-year stint at the club's helm saw them emerge as a giant of domestic and European football, and sealed Busby's place in history among the greatest British managers of all-time.

Busby acted as caretaker manager of Scotland for two games in 1959. Perhaps his most notable contribution was to give Denis Law his international debut against Wales.

Key Games

Manchester City 2-1 Portsmouth (FA Cup final, April 28, 1934)

Matt Busby collected his only honour as a player when he helped Manchester City win their first major trophy for 30 years. It was third time lucky for Busby as he had twice been on the losing side in FA Cup finals (1926 and 1933) as City came from behind against Portsmouth at Wembley to win 2-1, thanks to two goals from Fred Tilson.

Manchester United 3-1 Leicester (FA Cup final, May 25, 1963)

Coming just five years after the Munich tragedy that wiped out the Busby Babes, this win, arguably more so than any other, signalled the rebirth of Manchester United. In truth, the Reds were very much second favourites on the day. United had finished the season fourth from bottom in the First Division; Leicester fourth top. But the form book was turned on its head as the men from Old Trafford won 3-1 with two goals from David Herd and one from Denis Law.

Manchester United 4-1 Benfica (European Cup final, May 29, 1968)

Ten years after almost losing his life in the Munich air disaster, Matt Busby achieved his holy grail of European Cup success with United. His team were worthy winners, in a match that was actually more closely fought than the 4-1 scoreline would suggest, and the post-match pictures of him embracing George Best are among the most enduring images of the 1960s.


Club Competition Year
Manchester City FA Cup 1934
Manchester United (as manager) League Championship 1951-52, 1955-56, 1956-57, 1964-65, 1966-67
FA Cup 1948, 1963
European Cup 1968

Did You Know...?

Along with BB King and Doris Day, Matt Busby is mentioned on the Beatles song Dig It, on the Let It Be album.

It was Matt Busby who coined the nickname 'Red Devils' and added the motif to the club's shirts. He had seen the name being used by a Salford rugby team and decided it perfectly summed up Manchester United.

Matt Busby's Scottish accent was so thick that a census taker once misheard and listed his occupation as "fruit boiler".

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From the back pages

Manchester City 2-1 Portsmouth Published: April 30, 1934

FA Cup final match report

Red Star 3-3 Manchester United (United won 5-4 on aggregate) Published: February 6, 1958

European Cup quarter-final 2nd leg match report

Soccer Air Tragedy Published: February 7, 1958

Munich disaster front page

'We Crashed On Third Take-Off' Published: February 7, 1958

Munich disaster news story

Blackest Day Of All Published: February 7, 1958

Munich disaster news story

Manchester United 3-1 Leicester Published: May 27, 1963

FA Cup final match report

Benfica 1-5 Manchester United (United win 8-3 on aggregate) Published: March 10, 1966

European Cup quarter-final 2nd leg match report

United's Heart Will Make Busby Dream Come True Published: May 29, 1968

European Cup final preview

Manchester United 4-1 Benfica (aet) Published: May 30, 1968

European Cup final report

Tragic Secret Of Brave Sir Matt Published: January 21, 1994

Death of Matt Busby front page

Goodbye Sir Matt Published: January 21, 1994

Death of Matt Busby back page

Pit Boy To Soccer Knight Published: January 21, 1994

Death of Matt Busby news story

Matt Was Mr United Published: January 21, 1994

Death of Matt Busby news story

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