Manchester was not the only place grieving the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster this week.

Flags flew at half mast, memorial services were held and one minute silences were observed, but few of the tributes held to remember the 23 men who died in the Munich air disaster 50 years ago this week were as poignant as those that came from Molineux.

The emerging Manchester United team of 1958 the Busby Babes will be forever revered and nowhere more so outside of Manchester than at the home of Wolverhampton Wanderers, United's greatest domestic rivals during that era.

Not only were Wolves competing with United for dominance of the English game, they were both at the forefront of English attempts to conquer the European Cup.

The two clubs were also in direct competition for a player hailed as potentially the greatest footballer of all time: Duncan Edwards.

The Dudley-born star, who was just 21 years old when he was one of the eight United players killed in the crash in Munich on February 6, 1958, had caught the eye of Wanderers after starring for Wolverhampton Street Secondary School, Dudley Schools XI, Worcester County XI and the Birmingham and District XI.

In 1950, aged just 13, he won his first cap for England Schoolboys in front of 100,000 spectators at Wembley Stadium. He went on to captain the team when aged just 14.

Wolves, who were the biggest club in the country at that time, were vying to sign the Black Country boy when United swooped for his signature on his 16th birthday on June 2 1952. Wolves' loss proved to be United's gain as Edwards developed into a star of the England team by the time he was 18.

Wolves legend Billy Wright, who was the captain of England, saw his potential at close quarters, especially when Edwards inspired England to a 3-1 win in Berlin over the reigning world champions, West Germany, in 1956. Edwards scored a scorching goal to break the deadlock and get England rolling.

"The name of Duncan Edwards was on the lips of everyone who saw this match; he was phenomenal," Wright would later recall. "There have been few individual performances to match what he produced that day. He tackled like a lion, attacked at every opportunity and topped it off with that cracker of a goal. He was still only 19 but was already a world class player."

Sir Bobby Charlton, a survivor of the crash who went on to a glittering career that was capped by England's World Cup triumph in 1966, said Edwards was the only footballer that ever made him feel inferior as a player.

"He was more than a great player, sometimes he seemed like some bright light in the sky. He was giant and even today his loss is the hardest to bear," Charlton said. "Duncan had everything. He had strength and character that just spilled out of him on the field. I'm absolutely sure that if his career had had a decent span, he would have proved himself the greatest player we have ever seen."

Edwards died of his injuries in a German hospital over two weeks after the crash which decimated the United team, who were returning home after just booking their place in the semi-final of the European Cup by defeating Red Star Belgrade of Yugoslavia on aggregate.

If fate had allowed and Edwards had signed for Wolves, who knows if his potential would have been fulfilled?

Ironically, United were in a hurry to get back from Munich to England to prepare for a vital Division One clash against Wolves, who went on to claim the league title that season.

The emerging European competition had only come about after Wolves were declared 'Champions of the World' by the English press after a friendly victory over crack Hungarian side Honved in December 1954. Wanderers had overcome several other European opponents in prestigious friendlies before that game and, a year later, the European Champions' Club Cup was launched.

United's manager, Sir Matt Busby, was concerned that the heavy snow in Munich would mean they would be stranded in Germany and would miss the vital game against Wanderers.

After two aborted attempts to take off, the pilots tried again but the plane lost power on take-off from a runway covered in slush and melted snow, smashed through a fence and hit a house.

The other seven United players who died were Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Liam 'Billy' Whelan.