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Charlton pays tribute to United's Foulkes

BOBBY CHARLTON has led the tributes to Bill Foulkes, his fellow Munich air disaster survivor, who has died aged 81, saying he had helped change the course of Manchester United's history.

Foulkes, who died yesterday, became captain of the club following the plane crash which claimed the lives of 23 people and played a key role in their 1968 European Cup triumph, the first by an English club.

A central defender, Foulkes made his debut for United in 1952 and went on to play 688 times for the club – a figure only surpassed by Charlton, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes.

Charlton described his friend and colleague as "a marvellous man" and said news of his death was "very sad".

"He was as hard as nails, as tough as teak – I was always glad I didn't have to play against him," Charlton said.

Foulkes started work as a coal miner and was still going down the pit in the mid-1950s, by which time he was a regular member of Matt Busby's United first team.

He played for United for his whole career, the highlight coming near the end of his playing days when he was part of the 1968 European Cup-winning team aged 36. Foulkes had played a key part in the semi-final too, scoring the winning goal against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.



Charlton recalled: "I couldn't believe what he was doing in the Madrid penalty area in the first place ... then George Best crossed it and Bill sidefooted the ball into the back of the net.

"It was one of the most important matches in the history of Manchester United, so you could say he helped change that history."

United are expected to wear black armbands against Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow and to also mark Foulkes' passing at their next home match, against Everton on December 4.

The club's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward also paid tribute to Foulkes, saying: "Bill was a giant character ... Bill's contribution over almost 700 games and nearly 20 years will never be forgotten."