Welcome to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Manchester streets, landmarks, buildings and events from bygone days with today.

Our main image this week shows four of the greatest footballers of all time gathered at Ringway Airport, Manchester, in March 1965.

Three of them had flown into Manchester for the testimonial match of English soccer legend Sir Stanley Matthews, second left, due to take place in Stoke the following day.

Matthews is clearly overjoyed to welcome Spain and Real Madrid forward Alfredo di Stefano, left, and Hungarian superstars Ferenc Puskas and Laszlo ‘Laddie’ Kubala.

Di Stefano was described as the ‘most complete footballer in the history of the game.’ He played mainly as a forward, earning the nickname ‘Saeta Rubia’ or ‘the Blond Arrow’.

World Soccer stars Alfreda Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas
International passengers arriving Manchester Airport
His skill, stamina and versatility helped Real Madrid dominate the European Cup and La Liga throughout the 1950s.

Prolific scorer Puskas was part of the Hungarian ‘Golden Team’ that beat England twice in 1953, first with a shock 6-3 win at Wembley and then 7-1 in Budapest. Puskas scored twice in each game.

Kubala, also an attacker, was renowned for powerful finishing and pinpoint accuracy from fee kicks. He was a key member of the Barcelona team of the 1950s, scoring 280 goals in 345 appearances.

By the mid-1960s, Ringway Airport had launched the first transatlantic flight originating in Manchester. In 1969, the runway was extended to 2,745 metres enabling aircraft to fly non-stop to Canada.

In contrast to the warmth of the 1965 welcome, travellers to Manchester Airport today face all the restrictions of the Covid lockdown as our photo from earlier month clearly demonstrates.

*Many more images from Then and Now are featured in The Changing Face of Manchester published to mark the 150th anniversary of the M.E.N.

It’s on sale at £14.99 including postage and packing. Order your copy online at inostalgia.co.uk or ring the order hotline on 01928 503777.