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Motherwell
Motherwell

Sir Alexander Matthew "Matt" Busby, KBE, KCSG, lived from 26 May 1909 to 20 January 1994. He was a football player and manager, best remembered for his management of Manchester United. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.

Matt Busby was born in Orbiston near Motherwell in North Lanarkshire, the son of a coal miner. The doctor attending the birth in his parents' cottage is said to have made the comment: "A footballer has come into this house today". Busby's father and three of his uncles were killed during the First World War. When he left school Busby became a miner. In 1927, his mother applied to emigrate to the USA, and Busby intended to go with her. While her application was being processed, however, he started playing part time football for Denny Hibernians, and within a few games had been signed as a professional by Manchester City.

Busby made 12 appearances for Manchester City in the 1929/30 season, and by the following year was a fixture in the team. During his time with Manchester City he played in, and lost, three FA Cup Finals. In March 1936, after making over 200 appearances for Manchester City, Busby signed for Liverpool for a transfer fee of £8,000. He quickly established himself in the team at Anfield, but his professional playing career came to an end when he signed up for the King's Liverpool Regiment at the start of the Second World War. He spent much of the war as a football coach in the Army's Physical Training Corps, and was able to play some football, appearing for sides as diverse as Chelsea, Brentford and Hibernian. He also played for Scotland seven times against England during the war, these unofficial caps adding to the one "official" international in which he played, against Wales in 1933.

In February 1945, Busby, still in the army at the time, was offered the position of manager by Manchester United. He took up the post in October 1945 and continued as manager until 1969, returning for a further season in 1970/1. His greatest achievement as manager was winning the European Cup on 29 May 1968. The low point of his career came ten years earlier, on 6 February 1958, when the aircraft carrying the Manchester United team crashed at Munich Airport. Eight players and three club officials were among the 24 who died as a result, and two other players were so badly injured they never played again. Busby himself was expected to die as a result of his injuries, but left hospital after two months and began work to rebuild his shattered team.

Matt Busby was awarded the CBE following the Munich Air Disaster in 1958 and received a knighthood after the European Cup triumph in 1968. He was also made a Knight Commander of St Gregory by the Pope in 1972. He died in 1994 at the age of 84.

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