Manchester United have announced the death of former defender Bill Foulkes at the age of 81.
The club's official Twitter account posted that Foulkes had died early Monday morning:
Foulkes, who survived the Munich air disaster in 1958, made his #mufc debut in 1952 and went on to play 688 times for the club.— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 25, 2013
Only three men – Ryan Giggs, Sir Bobby Charlton and Paul Scholes – have played more games for #mufc than Bill Foulkes.— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 25, 2013
As the club proudly state, only Sir Bobby Charlton, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs rank higher than Foulkes when it comes to all-time appearances for Manchester United. His 688 outings came during a time when it was more common to stick with one's surroundings.
The St. Helens native was a former miner, but gave up his trade prior to joining United in 1952, per his biography on the club's official site.
It was only up from there for Foulkes, who, after playing 18 seasons at the club, had established himself as the most stable component of the United defence.
United figures both past and present led the tributes for what is a sad loss for the club:
Thoughts are with the friends and family of Bill Foulkes, so sad to hear he passed away this morning. Great servant to this club. RIP #mufc— Michael Carrick (@carras16) November 25, 2013
Sad to hear news of Bill Foulkes passing away. Great servant to the club. Thoughts are with his family. #Mufc— Rio Ferdinand (@rioferdy5) November 25, 2013
Foulkes was one of the 20 people to have survived the 1958 Munich Air Disaster, after which he would go on to play for the club for another 12 years.
In that time, the centre-back won two more First Division titles on top of the two won between 1955 and 1957. He also lifted the FA Cup and helped United to their first European Cup win in 1968, a decade on from the tragedy in Munich.
It wasn't long after Sir Matt Busby moved on from the club (for the first time) in 1969 that Foulkes also hung up his boots in 1970.
It was then a career of management for Foulkes, where he found himself at the helm of clubs in England, Japan, Norway and the United States.
Foulkes will be fondly remembered as one of the leading figures in Manchester United's restoration in the 1960s and one of the most important players in helping the club to its current trophy-laden state.