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The Gordon Hill column: United and Red Star Belgrade, long time football friends

This week I thought I would go down memory lane and tell you about one of my friends in the game who have played for other big clubs in the world.

This week I am spending time in Cleveland, Ohio, doing a clinic and seminar for a close friend of mine, Joe Raduka, who used to play for Red Star Belgrade.

What a great personal friend - and he was a very good player. We first met in Belgrade some 37 years ago. We built up a great relationship from there.

As everyone knows, Manchester United were playing against Red Star in the European Cup when on the way home they had the terrible air crash in Munich, where we lost nearly a whole team and journalists as well. It is something that will always be with any supporter or player from United and Red Star.

Joe and I sat down and went through all the great players who played for the two teams and today's great players. We had a very good talk about today's players - and yesterday’s players - and boy did we cover a lot of them.

Top players

Players that stick out from those we talked about included Dragen Djaic, one of the best left footed players in the world, and Vladimir Petrovic (pictured), the play-maker who spent one year with Arsenal. These where top players, United’s top players back then were Duncan Edwards, Tommy Taylor, Roger Bryne, we could have gone on and on.

Since then the two clubs have played remembrance games and if you go to the Red Star trophy room you can see a big picture of the United team that were playing in that game. This friendship between the two clubs is a big as the picture on the wall and has remained since to this very day. It is very funny how football can be very cruel but bring a lot of people together under the football flag.

Having gone over past players, we discussed modern day players like Scholes, Giggs, Rooney and also the captain of United, who I feel is great leader for the Reds, Nemanja Vidic, who also came from Red Star. So the friendship goes on and on.

When I came over to the States to start my club I called it United, and Joe has been involved in his own United – Cleveland United – for 25 years. Everything about both clubs is centred around Manchester United, just from talking to each other 37 years ago.

It may seem funny to a lot of football people to say that this game has changed, but let me tell you it has not lost its friendship label, and hopefully that will continue for many more years.

I just like working with Joe, as it is better than playing against him! It is nice to know you have friends from other countries who think like you and want to play an entertaining style. The best of all is now putting it into practice with all the young players from Joe's United to my United.

Just because we come from different countries and speak a different language makes no difference, we all speak the language of football.

By Gordon Hill

Gordon Hill was capped six times for England in the 1970s and made 132 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 51 goals. He scored both United goals in their 1976 FA Cup semi-final win against Derby and played in the Red Devils' 2-1 FA Cup final triumph against Liverpool in 1977.

He has played for Millwall, Derby, QPR and FC Twente, and managed Chester City and Hyde. He has also played in Finland, the USA and Canada where he managed the Novia Scotia Clippers in the Canadian Soccer League.

As a media commentator, Hill has worked with Sky Sports, BBC, ITV and Talk Radio. He lives with his wife Claire in McKinney, Texas, where he owns and runs Texas-based club United FC


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