LONDON - British football legend Bobby Charlton has named his greatest ever Manchester United team in his autobiography which is being serialised in the Times newspaper.
Charlton picked a best 11 from the 1950s to the present day but found no place for himself in the side. There was also no place for current stars such as Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo.
But United legends such as George Best, Eric Cantona and Peter Schmeichel, as well as current captain Gary Neville, did make the cut.
"There is one place that is automatic. It is the one that belongs to Schmeichel," says Charlton.
Charlton's defence comprised Neville, Denis Irwin, Gary Pallister and the normally combative midfielder Nobby Stiles.
"Nobby is in because no teams were ever more reassured, or so driven, than those of United and England before such great matches as the semifinals and final of the European Cup in 1968 and the World Cup two years earlier," said Charlton.
"I felt the force and strength of Nobby as though he was a band of steel running through everything we did." The midfield has Duncan Edwards, who died tragically in the Munich air disaster of 1958, Bryan Robson, Roy Keane and Best.
"Bryan Robson is in midfield for the sheer quality of his competitive character; the other skills - the tackling, the goalscoring, the inspiration - were all bonuses which carry him in alongside Roy Keane. Between them, they would squeeze the will out of the opposition," says the current United director.
Up front he chose Cantona alongside his great friend and former teammate Denis Law.
"Cantona goes in because maybe no one ever seized a time, and an opportunity, at the end of a previously flawed career quite so perfectly as when he set the young Lions of Old Trafford on their way," says Charlton before adding nostalgically: "Some accounts, which were closed long ago, just cannot be forgotten - or surpassed. That's why Duncan Edwards, George Best and Denis Law walk into my team." The piece serialised in the Times also has Law talking about the horror of the Munich disaster, in which he survived but 15 people died.
It was a moment that robbed the club of the team known as the Busby Babes, who many people believed were on the brink of dominating English and European football for years to come.
"I need to try to recreate the sheer, uncomplicated thrill that came with being a member of this young team," says Charlton, who scored 49 goals in 106 international matches and was crucial to England's 1966 World Cup victory.
"A team which, perhaps more than any other in the history of the game, was filled not only with talent but with what seemed a grace which came from some unchartable source, something beyond even the planning and the vision of the great Matt Busby (the then United manager)."
"There was never an instinct to try to put Munich out of mind, to say that it was something terribly sad but had to be relegated to the past because how else could you deal with the present and the future?
"Munich was just too big, too overpowering, to permit that kind of reaction." - Sapa-AFP