Manchester United first played European club football games in 1956 with their early foray into the world of European football overshadowed by the Munich air disaster in February 1958 when 23 people – including eight players and three members of the club’s staff – suffered fatal injuries in the Munich Air Disaster. The team had been traveling back from a European Cup tie against Red Star Belgrade when their aircraft stopped in Bavaria to refuel.
Sir Matt Busby, United coach at the time, faced with the adversity was forced to rebuild and built a new young team and the club tasted their first European Cup success in the 1967/68 season when goals from Bobby Charlton (two), George Best and Brian Kidd at Wembley gave England its first European Cup winning side against Portuguese giants Benfica.
Camp Nou joy
The Old Trafford club would have to wait to the end of the 20th century for a second taste of European glory (the competition now rebranded the Champions League) with a late and dramatic win over Bayern Munich at the iconic Camp Nou in Barcelona. With United trailing 1-0 heading into injury time, last gasp goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw Alex Ferguson’s men lift the title to the delight of the 50,000 United fans present.
2008 Moscow magic
After a tense game in a windswept Moscow against fellow Premier League giants Chelsea ended 1-1 at the end of full-time, the game ultimately went to penalty kicks where the ‘Red Devils’ prevailed with a 6-5 win after Dutch stopper Edwin van der Sar saved a Nicolas Anelka spot kick to secure a third night of maximum glory for the red half of the city.
2009 and 2011 disappointment
The ‘Red Devils’ progressed again to the final on two occasions since the Moscow triumph but on both nights came up against a Leo Messi inspired FC Barcelona side that were too strong for the English side. The 2009 final ended 2-0 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and the Wembley final in 2011 saw the Catalan side prevail 3-1.