“Can they score? They always score.” “Name, on the trophy!” “And Solskjaer has won it!”
Those words from commentator Clive Tyldesley screamed as Manchester United “reached the promise land” summed up not just the culmination of 90 minutes plus stoppage time of hard work and never give up attitude of Sir Alex Ferguson’s men in the Nou Camp that night but something much more, dare I say…..destined.
For it was on this day in 1909, that the man who would make Manchester United the club it is today was born.
Sir Matt Busby was born in Belshill in North Lanarkshire, to the north of Glasgow but would start his playing career as a 17 year-old with Manchester City.
In a playing career that also saw him spend four seasons at Liverpool, Busby eventually ended up as a football coach in the Army Physical Training Corps during the Second World War.
It was after the war that Busby headed to Old Trafford for the vacant manager’s job where in 24 years he would achieve greatness.
Busby’s tenure at United may have ended in 1969 –despite a small stint as caretaker in 1970- but there’s a case to be made that he oversaw on more triumph.
At 89 minutes in the Nou Camp stadium in 1999 on what would have been Sir Matt Busby’s birthday, the game seemed to slipping from United’s grasp- in fact it seemed to have already been lost. Such was the confidence of UEFA that Bayern Munich had won, they’d even put the German club’s ribbons on the famous trophy, so it could be presented without delay.
One thing that UEFA hadn’t banked on was the divine intervention of Sir Matt looking down from his dugout in the sky. Some may argue it was the crossing of Beckham, or the miss-hit shot of Ryan Giggs, coupled with the instincts of Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that won United the game.
I’d argue that it was more than that. Although every United player deserves credit for winning a game that was all but lost and doing what no other English club had ever achieved, I’ll ask you this: Is it really a coincidence that United equalised in the 90th minute of what would have been Sir Matt’s 90th birthday?
You may believe it is but I for one don’t. The great man decided to give United one more victory, of that I’m certain. Call me a kook or superstitious if you want but all I say is this: Believe.