|Born :||08 Feb 1929|
|Signed :||01 Mar 1949|
|Debut :||24 Nov 1951 v Liverpool (A) League|
|Goals total :||20|
|Appearances total :||280|
|Position: :||Full back|
|Left United :|
The roll-call of great United captains undoubtedly includes Roy Keane, Bryan Robson and Johnny Carey. But no such list would be complete without mention of Roger Byrne.
One of the greatest defenders in Manchester United’s history, Byrne was a father figure to the Busby Babes and tragically died alongside many of them in the Munich air disaster. Byrne was the natural choice for the captaincy when Carey retired in 1953. Despite being just 24, the Gorton lad was tough as teak, fully committed to the game and opinionated enough to stand up to anyone… even Matt Busby. Roger made his debut for United just three years earlier, against Liverpool at Anfield. His preferred position was left full back but during the 1951/52 season Byrne was successfully converted to the position of outside left, where he scored seven goals in six games. His performances helped United to win the league for the first time in 41 years and for the first time under Busby, but Byrne was dissatisfied playing at outside left and in October 1952 asked for a transfer. Busby was desperate not to lose one of his key men and quickly moved Byrne to left full back, where he remained for the rest of his career. In 1956 he led United to the First Division championship. This was Busby’s second title triumph in five years but the team had changed almost beyond recognition in the intervening period, with only Byrne and Johnny Berry playing a part in both campaigns. By now, the Busby Babes had made their mark and the average age of the side was just 22. In 1957 the team was more experienced and United almost achieved a unique treble, winning the league for a second successive season, reaching the semi-final of the European Cup and the final of the FA Cup, where they lost to Aston Villa. Afterwards, Byrne commented: “Never mind, we’ll be back next year.” True to his word, United returned to Wembley the following season. Tragically, Byrne never did.