Definition of Busby Babes

One of the most famous footballing generations is known for both their sporting ability and the tragedy that befell them. The "Busby Babes" were the footballers who were recruited and played for Manchester United in the late 40s and 50s under manager Matt Busby.

The name came from the youth and talent of these products of Manchester United's youth academy. It was first used by the Manchester Evening News. The team had an average age of 21 and 22 when they won the league titles in 1956 and 1957.

Statue of Matt Busby in Manchester.  What does the term Busby Babes mean?However, many of those Babes would meet a tragic end when the 1958 Munich air disaster occured. The British European Airways Flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off on a slush-covered runway, killing 20 people, including 8 players. 2 more players were injured to such an extent that they could never play again.

Bobby Charlton is perhaps the most famous of the Babes, as he set the all-time goal-scoring record for both United and England until Wayne Rooney broke that record. He also helped the club win their first European Cup in 1968. The last of Matt Busby's signings came in 1969 in the form of Sammy McIllroy , the same year as Busby's retirement.

While many people refer to the Busby Babes today as the original group before the Munich Air Disaster, others consider the term as being all the players Busby signed. With a total of 13 trophies won under Busby, there's a good reason this generation of players is looked back on so fondly by United fans.