William Augustine Whelan (1 April 1935 – 6 February 1958), also known as Billy Whelan or Liam Whelan, was an Irish footballer and one of the eight Manchester United players who were killed in the Munich air disaster. He was 22 years old when he died.

Liam Whelan
Liam Whelan.jpg
Whelan in May 1957
Personal information
Full name William Augustine Whelan
Date of birth (1935-04-01)1 April 1935
Place of birth Dublin, Ireland
Date of death 6 February 1958(1958-02-06) (aged 22)
Place of death Munich, West Germany
Playing position Inside forward
Youth career
Home Farm
Manchester United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1953–1958 Manchester United 79 (43)
National team
1956–1957 Republic of Ireland 4 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Whelan was born in Dublin. He came from a large family; his father John had died in 1943, when Whelan was just eight years old. He was not a confident flyer and just before the aeroplane took off from Munich, he was heard to say: "Well, if this is the time, then I'm ready."

Whelan began his career with Home Farm before joining Manchester United as an 18-year-old in 1953. He was capped four times for the Republic of Ireland national team, but did not score. His brother John played for Shamrock Rovers and Drumcondra F.C..

He made 98 first-team appearances in four seasons at United, scoring 52 goals. He was United's top scorer in the 1956-57 season, scoring 26 goals in the First Division and 33 in all competitions as United won their second successive league title and reached the semi-finals of the European Cup and FA Cup. Such was the strength of the competition in the United first team that he was soon being kept out of the side by Bobby Charlton. He did not play in the European Cup tie against Red Star Belgrade, the day before the Munich air disaster.[1]

On 8 December 2006 the railway bridge on Fassaugh Road/Dowth Avenue junction in Cabra, Dublin 7 close to Dalymount Park was renamed in his honour. The campaign to have the bridge renamed was initiated and organised by members of the Cabra, GAA club, Naomh Fionbarra (Irish language spelling) (St. Finbarr's) and sanctioned by Dublin City Council in early 2006. It is close to St. Attracta Road, the street in which he was born. The unveiling ceremony was performed by Whelan's Manchester United teammate at the time of the aircrash, Sir Bobby Charlton.

On 4 February 2008, the Irish national postal body An Post issued a 55c postage stamp for the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster showing a photo of Liam Whelan.[2]

Whelan's grave, Glasnevin Cemetery. Note the Manchester United scarf.

Whelan is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-17. Retrieved 2012-11-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Irish Stamps Collectors News 1/08" (PDF). An Post. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
  3. ^ "The lost genius of Irish football: Remembering Liam Whelan, Dublin's Busby Babe". The 42. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 14 February 2018.