Busby Babe Bill Foulkes

Former Manchester United captain Bill Foulkes, who survived the 1958 Munich air crash, has died aged 81.

Only Sir Bobby Charlton, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes have played more times for United than the Busby Babe, who made 688 appearances.

Sir Bobby Charlton said the defender was a "marvellous man" and United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward added "he will never be forgotten".

St Helens-born Foulkes played for United in their 1968 European Cup win. Foulkes was a key member of Sir Matt Busby's team of talented young players, who were nicknamed the Busby Babes. On 6 February 1958, the plane that was carrying the team back from Belgrade crashed in a blizzard after re-fuelling at Munich airport. Twenty-three people died - eight players, eight newspaper journalists and seven members of backroom staff.

Speaking about the disaster in 2008, Foulkes said he had been "put in a bad way" by the crash. "The back end came up and I saw it came up and down again and this meant all the stuff came out of the back and hit me in the back of the head." However, he managed to escape from the plane and ran to safety before returning to help the survivors. "I ran over to Matt and we put an overcoat underneath him and he just turned over, groaned and passed out," he said.

After the Munich tragedy, Foulkes took over the captaincy and became a pillar of some of United's most successful teams. Foulkes was a four-time league champion and a FA Cup winner. He also won the European Cup at Wembley with United, when the team beat Portuguese side Benfica 4-1 in 1968.