Why are Manchester United called the Red Devils?

Rashford Greenwood Manchester United 2021Getty

Manchester United are most commonly known as "the Red Devils", though they have taken on a slew of other nicknames throughout the history of the club.

It is "the Red Devils" moniker that has stuck, however, though its origin is interesting as the Manchester side weren't always associated with the nickname.

Goal takes a look at how Man Utd adopted the nickname, and how the logo ended up on the club's official club crest.

Why are Man Utd known as "the Red Devils?"

Manchester United were actually known as "The Heathens" in the early days of the club, dating to when they were established in 1878. Back then, they were first known as "Newton Heath Football Club".

They only renamed themselves as Manchester United in 1902 as part of their club rebrand, when their most common name was simply just "United".

In 1945, when the legendary Sir Matt Busby took over the club, he introduced a wealth of youth players into the side which led to them being called "The Busby Babes" by the press.

After the tragedy of the Munich Air Disaster in 1958, however, which claimed 23 lives, and those of eight players - Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Billy Whelan - the nickname "The Busby Babes" was deemed inappropriate and subsequently retired.

Manchester United mascotGetty

Busby, then, sought out a new nickname for the side, and drew inspiration from the English rugby side Salford that had toured France in the 1930s.

Their kit consisted of a red shirt, with the French press branding them as "Les Diables Rouges" - which translates to "the Red Devils".

Busby liked the nickname, feeling that the allusion to the devil instead of the more angelic "Babes" sounded more intimidating, and so the club began officially implementing the devil logo into the matchday programmes and scarves.

The club badge was officially redesigned in 1970, now with the signature devil with a pitchfork that has now become synonymous with the team.

Manchester United's official club mascot, named Fred the Red, is himself an anthropomorphic "red devil" as a nod to the club's nickname. He wears the number 55 shirt.