Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Harry Gregg, Manchester United soccer legend and a member of the team involved in a notorious 1958 plane crash that killed eight of his teammates, has died at the age of 87, his foundation announced Monday.
The foundation said Gregg died in a hospital in Northern Ireland Sunday due to an unspecified illness.
"It is with great sorrow that we inform of the death of Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend Harry Gregg, OBE," the Harry Gregg Foundation wrote in a Facebook post. "Harry passed away peacefully in hospital surrounded by his loving family.
"The Gregg family would like to thank the medical staff at Causeway Hospital for their wonderful dedication to Harry over his last few weeks. To everyone who has called, visited or sent well wishes we thank you for the love and respect shown to Harry and the family."
The former goalkeeper began his senior playing career in 1952 with Britain's Doncaster Rovers. He joined Manchester United in 1957 by signing a then-record contract for a goalkeeper worth nearly $30,000. He played with the Red Devils until 1966 and finished his playing career at Stoke City in 1967. He also made 25 appearances for the Northern Ireland national team.
Gregg earned the nickname the "Hero of Munich" for his actions during the Feb. 6, 1958, crash at Munich-Riem Airport in Germany. The plane, returning the team to Britain after a match in Yugoslavia, crashed after a third takeoff attempt due to snowy and icy conditions. Gregg survived the crash and escaped the fuselage, but re-entered the burning wreckage twice to rescue teammates and passengers.
Twenty-three people died in the crash, including eight players and three members of the Manchester United staff. The crash also killed two members of the air crew, two passengers and eight journalists.
"It is with deepest sadness that we have learned of the passing of former player Harry Gregg OBE," Manchester United said in a statement. "The thoughts and prayers of everyone at the club go out to Harry's family and friends."
Gregg became a coach at Shrewsbury Town in 1968 and left four years later to manage Swansea City. He later managed Crewe Alexandra until 1978, and Carlisle United from 1986 to 1987.
With Gregg's death, there is now just one surviving Manchester United player who was involved in the Munich crash -- British soccer legend Bobby Charlton, who is 82.