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Why are Manchester United called the Red Devils? Sir Matt Busby introduced nickname during club rebuild after tragic Munich Air Disaster

Manchester United are the most famous football club in the world and their nickname is known by all fans across the globe. 

‘The Red Devils’ is a name that is instantly recognisable, with it playing a huge part in the club’s branding and identity.

Even Man United’s badge includes a nod to the nickname


Even Man United’s badge includes a nod to the nickname

Why are Man United called the Red Devils?

The reason why Manchester United are called the Red Devils is somewhat of a tragic one. 

Originally in 1878, the club were nicknamed ‘The Heathens’ when they were known as Newton Heath Football Club. 

In 1902, they were then rebranded to Manchester United and their nickname was just ‘United’ before Sir Matt Busby took over at the club in 1945. 

Busby is a legendary figure in the club’s history after he created one of football’s greatest teams ever, with that side being nicknamed ‘The Busby Babes’. 

However, after years of success, tragedy struck as the squad were involved in the Munich Air Disaster in 1958. 

Eight players were among the 23 who sadly died on that day, with the events rocking the footballing world. 

Matt Busby rebuilt Man United after the tragic event

Allsport – Getty

Matt Busby rebuilt Man United after the tragic event

After the disaster, Busby rebuilt the club but decided to look for a new nickname with ‘The Busby Babes’ becoming a reminder of the tragedy. 

The United icon looked for inspiration from local rugby team Salford that had toured in France and were labelled ‘Les Diables Rouges’ by the press due to their red shirts. 

This translated into ‘The Red Devils’ and Busby decided on using that nickname, feeling as if Devils were more intimidating to opponents and that the aura suited the club’s style of play. 

The name stuck and then became a symbol of the club in 1970 after the badge was redesigned to include the now very well-known Devil holding a pitchfork. 

United’s nickname and branding has been the same ever since and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. 

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