Manchester United v Benfica

Fergie: Benfica clash evokes spirit of '68

November 21, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he wants to do justice to the memory of legendary Red Devils boss Sir Matt Busby when his side take on Benfica on Tuesday.

Manchester united European Cup celeb
PA PhotosManchester United beat Benfica 4-1 at Wembley in the 1968 European Cup final

• Rooney should be fit to face Benfica
• Blog: Red, Write and Welsh

Benfica - unbeaten so far this season and level with United at the top of Champions League Group C - boast a rich history in the European Cup having won back-to-back trophies in 1961 and 1962.

However, the Portuguese giants also played a key role in United's continental past. In 1968, Busby led his team to a 4-1 victory over Benfica in the European Cup final at Wembley, a result that saw United crowned the first English winners of the competition.

Ferguson acknowledges the importance of that result to United's history and, though he has established his own legacy after 25 years at Old Trafford, he was keen to pay tribute to the club's 1968 vintage.

"We will try to do justice to the memory of Sir Matt's tussles with Benfica in the old days because people of vision are rare,'' Ferguson told United Review. "I always felt Jock Stein knew what was needed for football, and so did Sir Matt. I just hope I measure up in that way.

"The memories of many Manchester United supporters will fly back to those early days in European competition when George Best mesmerised Portugal's finest in the Stadium of Light, and then ultimately to the night Sir Matt Busby achieved his European dream in 1968 to make United the first English club to win the European Cup.

"That must have been an emotional occasion for Sir Matt, who had defied the English football hierarchy to take United into the European Cup. Matt Busby was a man of vision. He persuaded his chairman to accept UEFA's invitation to take part in a championship of champions because he felt after proving his team the best in England, he wanted to measure them against the best of other countries.

"Even the [Munich] air disaster didn't deflect his purpose and just 10 years later, he did in fact prove that in 1968 his team were the supreme champions. Now Europe runs deep in the psyche of Manchester United and Benfica evokes these memories.''