Millions of England football fans are hoping – some against hope, that a picture of captain Rio Ferdinand holding aloft the World Cup will be splashed on the front pages of the global media on the morning of July 12 just like the one of former captain Bobby Moore was on that unforgettable day in 1966. Football, like life itself is full of unanswered ‘Ifs’ and the question must be asked whether that iconic picture of Moore would have ever appeared IF…
A man who has been universally agreed certain to become England’s greatest ever footballer would have, without doubt, been the one holding that trophy instead of Moore had fate not played such a cruel twist of fate on both himself and on English football. Who knows how many times England could have won the tournament had destiny not played such a decisive hand eight years earlier?
Manchester United legend Duncan Edwards would have been 29 years old and in his football prime in 1966. The 1958 and 1962 World Cups had come and gone since his tragic death in Munich just four months before Brazil won its first tournament in Sweden so who knows how England would have fared IF Edwards and the rest of the England players who lost their lives had been available? Would Edwards still have been capable of helping his country retain the Cup in 1970? Sadly, nobody will ever know.
Those are questions that would have been furthest from his mind as Edwards boarded that ill fated flight as a 21 year old with the football world at his feet but with hindsight, they are highly legitimate ones for those of us left behind.
The vast majority of today’s fans have no recollection of the Old Trafford legend whatsoever so it’s worth reflecting on the words of Sir Bobby Charlton who is just one year younger, when he described his former team mate as “The only player that made me feel inferior” and that his death was “the biggest single tragedy ever to happen to Manchester United and English football”
Former United and Scotland manager Tommy Docherty had this to say “There is no doubt in my mind that Duncan would have become the greatest player ever. Not just in British football with United and England, but the best in the world. George Best was something special as was Pelé and Maradona but in my mind, Duncan was much better in terms of all round ability and skill.”
And if that’s not enough, here’s more. Sir Stanley Matthews described him as being “like a rock in a raging sea” and Bobby Moore, the man who may never have lifted the World Cup had Edwards lived likened him to the Rock of Gibraltar when defending but also noted that he was “dynamic coming forward”.
Duncan Edwards would have been 74 years old this year. You can just see him sitting in front of a television set, watching his beloved England in South Africa and praying that he could see Rio Ferdinand holding the World Cup high above his head. He may have also been holding an old, tattered photo of himself doing exactly the same thing on that memorable Wembley day way back in 1966 if…
Does anyone have any memories of Duncan Edwards at Old Trafford? Please share