Ever Wonder why Manchester United is nicknamed The Red Devils?
Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.
Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.
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This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.
How did Manchester United become known around the world as the Red Devils?
It is one of the most famous nicknames in the sporting world: but how did Manchester United become known as The Red Devils?
Previously they were known as ‘The Busby Babes’ as legendary manager Sir Matt Busby created one of the greatest teams the football world has ever seen.
United had so many incredibly talented and extremely young players and the Busby Babes were a revelation.
Why a new nickname was needed
However, tragedy struck in 1958 as the Munich Air Disaster occurred.
A plane carrying Manchester United’s players and staff back from a European Cup game in Belgrade crashed in heavy snow after a refueling stop in Munich. 23 were killed, including eight players, and the Busby Babes nickname became a painful reminder of the awful tragedy which rocked the club and the entire world.
In the aftermath of the disaster, Sir Matt Busby rebuilt the club and decided to look for a new nickname as Manchester United wanted to become more intimidating to opponents and they now had a squad of more experienced players and the Busby Babes nickname needed to be replaced.
The answer for that new nickname?
Well, it came from a local rugby club from Greater Manchester, who had played in France. Because of course that is the answer.
Rugby? South of France? Les Diables Rouges?
Salford, who are based just 4 miles away from Old Trafford, were known as the Devils and they played in red. The rugby club went to play in the South of France for two months in 1934 to help grow the popularity of the game.
Salford made such an impression that locals referred to them as ‘Les Diables Rouges.’ In English that is: ‘The Red Devils.’
It is said that Busby liked the nickname of Salford rugby club and the aura it created and as he planned for United to now be a more physical, defensive and tough-tackling side, he decided United’s new nickname would be The Red Devils too.
In 1973 the Red Devil appeared on United’s official club badge for the first time and it has been there ever since.