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Wednesday, September 2, 1998 Published at 22:51 GMT 23:51 UK


UK

Busby Babe loses battle against cancer

Eight Busby Babes were killed in the Munich air disaster

Jackie Blanchflower, one of the Busby Babes who survived the Manchester United Munich air crash, has died at the age of 65 after a long fight against cancer.

The Belfast-born centre-half, younger brother of Tottenham star Danny, won 12 Northern Ireland caps.

He made his debut for his country in 1954 in the same side as his brother.

But his career was cut short by the 1958 Munich disaster, when United's plane crashed on take-off, killing eight of the legendary Busby Babes.


[ image: The Blanchflower brothers both tasted success]
The Blanchflower brothers both tasted success
Jackie Blanchflower joined Manchester United as an amateur in May 1949 and turned professional a year later.

He was badly injured in the 1958 air crash, which claimed a total of 23 lives.

He was unable to continue playing after the crash and retired in June 1959 to become an accountant.

He was a popular after-dinner speaker and was amongst the guests at the Munich testimonial game at Old Trafford just two weeks ago.

Tributes

Tributes have begun coming in for Mr Blanchflower. One of the first to pay his respects was fellow Busby Babe Bill Foulkes.

Mr Foulkes last saw Mr Blanchflower at the Munich Tribute game.

"We had a private chat but he wasn't very well," he said.

"Jackie was a brilliant footballer, capable of filling in for Duncan Edwards in midfield and Tommy Taylor in attack.

"His rib cage was badly damaged at Munich and he never played again."

Mr Foulkes remembers Jackie Blanchflower as an outgoing member of Busby's squad.

"Jackie was a fun-loving character, a little bit more outgoing than his brother Danny," he added.

"He was a first-class man and footballer. He will be sadly missed."

Mr Blanchflower's former Northern Ireland team-mate Billy Bingham expressed his shock at the death of a man he had known since they were children.

Fun-loving

"We lived in the same district of Belfast and both played for Orange Field Star, a local team which Jackie's mother ran," said Mr Bingham, who later went on to manage his country.

"We played schoolboy internationals together and though our careers took different paths we always came together for Northern Ireland games."

Mr Bingham told how he still has a team picture on his wall, taken as a 12-year-old, with him and Mr Blanchflower together.

"Danny was five years older and because of that Jackie was in his shadow a little bit.

"But he came out of that and was very much his own man, a fun-loving guy who would definitely have played in the 1958 World Cup had it not been for the Munich crash.

"I haven't seen Jackie for quite a while but we go back such a long way that this news comes as a huge shock."

He added: "My thoughts go out to his wife Jean."



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