A bronze statue honors one of Manchester United’s most significant historical figures.
On Wednesday, United unveiled a statue of Jimmy Murphy, a club legend, in front of the famous Stretford End at Old Trafford.
Murphy, Sir Matt Busby’s longtime assistant, was essential in guiding United out of the destruction caused by the Munich air disaster in 1958.
He was credited by many supporters with saving the team as they battled a tragedy that claimed the lives of 23 people in total in addition to eight players.
Murphy, who had missed United’s fateful trip because he was leading Wales to their first World Cup finals, guided the club through its darkest days and was by Busby’s side when they won the European Cup ten years later while Busby lay gravely ill in the hospital.
Ten Hag claimed that Murphy embodied so much of what was admirable about United. “He stands for more symbols,” he said. “He is a symbol of youth, of youth development, he is a symbol of tenacity and willpower, and those are the standards for Manchester United. The club was devastated following Munich, but they recovered, with Jimmy Murphy playing a crucial part. He deserves to receive an honor for this, without a doubt.
Jimmy Murphy Jr., speaking on behalf of the Murphy family, said: “This is a very proud moment for the entire family. Our father made a significant contribution to Manchester United, which we have always valued, but this wonderful statue is further evidence of his lasting influence at Old Trafford.
When United’s aircraft attempted to take off for Manchester after stopping in Munich for fuel on the way back from playing Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup in the former Yugoslavia, the Elizabethan class Airspeed Ambassador crashed. Busby informed Murphy.
A group of fan organizations petitioned for Murphy to be honored alongside Busby, Sir Alex Ferguson, and the Holy Trinity of George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton, and Denis Law, all of whom have statues outside Old Trafford. Their request led to the decision to honor Murphy.
The famous “Busby Babes,” many of whom died in Munich, were trained by Murphy on the former ash-cinder pitch, where the statue is located directly above the touchline.
At the statue’s unveiling, United’s 1968 European Cup-winning team members Brian Kidd and Alex Stepney, as well as former and current chief executives David Gill and Richard Arnold, and Murphy’s family, were all in attendance.
The eulogies for Murphy were led by Ferguson and the current manager of United, Erik ten Hag. Ferguson praised Murphy as a “fantastic person in the history of Manchester United” and a “very special man” and declared that he would never forget the assistance that Busby’s former assistant manager provided when he took over as manager in 1986.
We appreciate the efforts of everyone at Manchester United, and I know that Dad would have been moved to see so many supporters here honoring his 43 years of service to the team.
“Dad always said that if he could stay at Old Trafford, he would — and that has come true today.”
Murphy is honored with both the United Academy Player of the Year Award and a training facility at Carrington. Alejandro Garnacho, the previous Jimmy Murphy Award winner, recently signed a new long-term contract, and Ten Hag expressed his hope that the 18-year-old winger, who is soon expected to make a full recovery from an injury, would keep kicking.
It’s a fresh start because now there will undoubtedly be higher demands and expectations, according to Ten Hag. It demonstrates that we give young players opportunities, but they must earn them.