Thursday, February 21, 2008

Duncan Edwards - Football Superstar

On February 21, 1958, fifty years ago, the world lost what would have probably been one of the greatest football (soccer) players ever. In a life cut short by tragedy, Duncan Edwards, had only started to begin to fulfill his potential as one of the premiere players of his time.

Duncan Edwards was born on Oct 1, 1936 in the town of Dudley, in England. He excelled at football, even at a young age, when he picked up the notice of a Manchester United scout. It was only a few years later, at the age of 16 1/2 that he became the youngest player to play in the top division. On his 17th birthday, October 1953, he was signed by Manchester United.

By early 1958, he had made 175 league appearances and was fast becoming a well-known legend to sports fans of that day. His game play was remarkable as he helped England in the 1958 World Cup qualifying campaign.

On February 6, 1958, tragedy struck the sports world. On that snowy day, after a refueling stop in Munich, the plane carrying the team made a third attempt to take off. Unable to completely lift off the ground, the plane crashed, killing 7 players and 14 other passengers. Agains all odds, Duncan Edwards survived the initial crash.

Rushed to the hospital with broken legs, ribs, and damaged kidneys, the doctors initially thought that Edwards would recover, but that his football playing days were over. Sadly, after 15 days of valiant fighting, the injuries to his kidneys proved to be more deadly than thought, and Duncan Edwards died.

Many sports historians believe that if the crash had not occurred, Duncan Edwards would have gone on to a tremendous career and worldwide fame as one of the best football players ever.

Great Britain issued a 5-stamp series in 1996 called Football Legends. Duncan Edwards is immortalized on one of the stamps in the series, as seen here. The entire series is very affordable, with a cost of about $5 (USD) on most auction sites.

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