Roger William Byrne (8 February 1929 – 6 February 1958), was an English footballer and a captain of Manchester United F.C.
He was one of the eight Manchester United players that lost their lives in the Munich air disaster on 6 February 1958. He made 33 appearances for the England team, and was captain of Manchester United from the 1953-54 season onwards, the legendary Busby Babes era, playing as a full-back of the traditional style, similar to a modern day sweeper. He had previously been fielded at wing-half and outside left and it was a testament to his versatility that, despite being naturally right sided, he should have been a success in a variety of positions.
Byrne was never considered the most gifted of footballers. His tackling could be suspect and his aerial ability was described as no better than average, but his incredible work ethic and footballing intelligence allowed him to position himself and react to danger swiftly. Innovatively, he was also adept at making forward runs and joining attacks at a time when full-backs were expected only to stand back and defend. Perhaps his best asset was his ability to inspire players with his charismatic leadership. Even today, he is counted among one of Manchester United's greatest captains.
He gained League Championship medals in 1952, 1956 and 1957, and was a FA Cup runner-up to Aston Villa in 1957.
Byrne was also a regular member of Walter Winterbottom's England team during the 1950s and was expected to captain the national team at the 1958 World Cup.
He was only 28 when he died in the Munich air disaster, and on arriving home he would have received the news that his wife Joy was expecting their first child. Eight months after his death, Roger's son Roger junior was born, and during the 1970s was a ball boy at Old Trafford.