When Tommy Taylor signed for Manchester United from Barnsley in 1953 he was generally regarded as the finishing touch to Sir Matt Busby’s famous Babes. It had been rumoured that as many as 17 clubs had been chasing the 20 year-old’s signature and United’s
fee (£29,999) instantly made Tommy one of the highest profile players in England. But was the Second Division striker worth it?
Would he live up to the pressure at Old Trafford where so many before and since have failed?
In the event, history records that Tommy went on to score 112 goals in 166 league games, 11 goals in 14 European Cup matches
and 5 in 9 FA Cup ties. He represented his country 19 times, scoring 16 goals. More than mere statistics though, Tommy Taylor was renowned for his happy nature, his unselfish attitude and his ability in the air - he quickly became known among United fans as ‘the Smiling Executioner’.
In his first game for the club, against Tom Finney’s Preston North End, he scored with a header... from outside the area. Tommy quickly became an instant hero at Old Trafford - tall, athletic, good in the air and on the floor: he was an integral part of the Busby Babes side that dominated the English game during the mid-fifties.
World-class boxing trainer and avid United fan Brian Hughes traces Tommy Taylor’s career from his
upbringing in the coalfields of Barnsley via the packed stadiums of British and European football to the runway in Munich where Tommy and the rest of Busby’s great team perished.
Along the way Hughes interviews some of the biggest names in football: Alfredo di Stefano, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Jimmy Greaves, Nobby Stiles, Tom Finney, Tommy Lawton and many more. They are all agreed - Tommy Taylor was a world class centre forward who died before he had chance to reach his peak, a happy-go-lucky footballer with lead in his boots and a spring in his heel.
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