"It was a very sad time" - John Giles on the difficult period after the Munich air disaster

The tragedy occurred in 1958 and saw eight Manchester United players sadly pass away

John Giles was in studio on Thursday night and one thing he got to take a good look at was a match programme with sentimental value.

The match programme was for an Irish international match against Sweden in 1959 - the Swedes reached the World Cup final the year before only to lose to Brazil with a 17-year-old Pele - was from the day he made his debut for Ireland. 

Tonight on Off The Ball, he shared memories of that day and the build-up to it. 

"I was delighted and nervous because I hadn't met any of the players," he said of the build-up to that debut which would see him line up with players that he admired.

"It was certainly a day I'd never forget."  

John's Ireland debut would come about 18 months after the Munich air disaster of 1958 which saw eight players and three members of staff at Manchester United sadly lose pass away.

Manager Matt Busby was among those who suffered injuries in the tragedy.

John was a young Manchester United player outside the first team at the time and he discussed the difficults days and weeks that followed.

"It was a very sad time and a very difficult time," he said.

"It was such a dreadful situation."

It was two to three weeks after the tragedy that training, for example, began to recommence at the club.

"At that time, Jimmy Murphy took over because Matt Busby was injured and he had to get a team together because the first match they played was a cup match against Sheffield Wednesday that had been postponed until that time."

The club were able to reach the FA Cup final that season.

Busby returned as manager after his recovery from injury and 10 years later would lead Man United to the European Cup title.

"I remember when he came back, he was in the gym and he was shaking hands with all the lads that were there, myself included, and he broke down. He couldn't handle it. He was very badly injured himself," said John of Busby.