Ahead of the all so important Manchester Derby with a place in the fourth round of FA Cup being at stake, we look at a son of both the Blue and Red of Manchester, a man who is remembered to be one of the most lethal strikers to take to the football field - Denis Law.
Date Of Birth 24th February, 1940
Place Of Birth Aberdeen, Scotland
Playing Position Centre Forward
| The Birth Of A Champion
Denis Law was born to a fisherman, George Law, and his wife Robina, in 1940. He was the youngest of his seven brothers. His family couldn't afford to buy him a pair of shoes and the first ones he received was a second-hand gift from a neighbour.
Since a very young age, Denis was a fan of the game. He would spend all the money he got to watch the local teams like Aberdeen. He went to the extent of turning down a place at a great grammar school because they’d make him play rugby rather than his beloved sport. Joining another local school, he represented his school at football and did very well at the school level, showing great promise and talent.
He moved on to play for Huddersfield Town, a move that kick-started his football career and the rest is actually history.
| Playing The Game
Law was signed to play for Huddersfield Town, after a rather bizarre trial, where he was mocked for his small build and poor eyesight. But soon after this, he underwent correctional surgery, which not only improved his eyesight but also his confidence. Confidence is a very important attribute a professional athlete must possess as it can do wonders for him. This was very true in the case of Denis.
He went on to have a great start to a professional football career, performing very well from the onset although Huddersfield got relegated to the second division. With their manager, who left for Liverpool, Huddersfield couldn’t keep up with his rising transfer fee, and he moved to Manchester City in the Eastlands, in 1960, for a record £55,000. He was instrumental in their retention of first division status, but as the decade progressed his performances grew cold and he decided to move across the English Channel, to Italy, to play for the Italian side Torino, to save his career which seemed to be on a decline. But even in Italy, he failed to cope with the conditions.
After suffering minor injuries in a car accident with fellow footballer Joe Baker, who was injured far worse, Law returned to Manchester to burn red, signing on for United for another record transfer fee of £115,000, in 1962. His career seemed to have been reduced to ashes following such great skill and determination at the beginning of his career.
| Glory Glory Man United
Just like Phoenix rises from ashes, Law’s career was no different. After his transfer to United, his career picked up like a rocket, scoring and creating countless goals, with his skill and agility earning him the nick name of “The Stretford End King”.
There were many disputes regarding pay and monetary issues, but they were all dealt with amicably so as to not create a furore in the press.
Even today Denis Law stands as one of the top scorers of Manchester United with a total of 236 goals in close to 400 appearances, getting him the legend status, a player who would always be remembered for his goals at the Stretford End.
A statue of Denis Law stands on the Stretford End concourse as a lasting monument to his impact on Old Trafford, and is a fitting tribute to one of United’s true living legends.
| Sinking The Red Ship
He played his last year of football at United’s closest rivals Manchester City.
Denis Law will always be remembered for his famous back heel that got Manchester United relegated to the second tier of English football. This was the last match of football he played and the goal he scored to sink the red’s ship was the last goal scored by him, as he retired from club football in 1974 after an illustrious football career spanning 18 years, with ups and downs along the way, but a great journey nevertheless.
Denis Law debuted for Scotland in 1958. He went on to play 55 matches representing his nation from ’58 to ’74 scoring 30 goals in the process. Although his international career seems pretty coloured with a good goal/game ratio, it failed to pick up as much as it did at the club level.
| Trophy Room
European Footballer of the Year 1964 (Only Scottish Player to have ever won this award)
Inaugural Inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame 2002
Scotland's Golden Player by the Scottish Football Association (most outstanding Scottish player of the last 50 years) 2003
1963 FA Cup with Manchester United
English First Division Title 1965 and 1967 with Manchester United
1968 European Cup
| Personal Life
Law was married in December 1962 to Diana, and they still reside in Manchester!
They have five children, some of whom have chosen to work with Manchester United in capacities off the pitch. Law still is a contributor to Manchester United, and to local media by acting as a radio and sports presenter. He remained close friends with his fellow Manchester United team mates, Sir Bobby Charlton and the now deceased George Best.
His great friend George Best described him as: “Up there with the all-time greats. Electric. As a bloke and as a pal he’s different class.”
Another football legend Dennis Bergkamp, the Dutch second striker, was named after Denis Law, as the parents of the Dutch footballer were apparently huge fans of Manchester United, when Denis Law came to play at Old Trafford.
| The King
‘The King’ Law’s autobiography, his story as a young boy from Aberdeen who rose from poverty to the very pinnacle of football excellence. Packed with hilarious off the field tales and peopled by Law’s fellow football legends like Matt Busby, George Best and Jimmy Greaves, Law’s book takes the reader back to the game’s glory days. In so doing, we learn why, to his legions of fans, Denis Law was, and will forever remain, the King.
Law’s autobiography, first published in 2003, is a book which will probably be passed over by most people who don’t support either Manchester United or City. That would be a mistake for anyone who follows football. It’s a very easily read autobiography, if a little too diplomatic at times, but Law did more than enough in his career to keep the reader interested.
| War In Manchester - 2011
Dennis Law describes the present time rivalry between United and City as the rivalry that used to exist in Manchester when he used to take to the field.
“It is starting to feel like it did in the Sixties. You can feel the buzz of it. We played at a fascinating time of cultural change and Bestie was part of it.”
“In the 1960’s, for a fan of English Football, Manchester was the place to be.”
“It is great for the city of Manchester that both teams are doing so well. I feel real affection for both of them. It is good when there are two teams in a city because they can fight against each other and that keeps them on their tip toes. It was great for all of us in the 60s. It was a real rivalry and it’ll be a big old battle this season, too. City will definitely be up there now they have got Aguero into the side, along with the likes of Silva and Yaya.”
“City were the noisy neighbours then and they are the noisy neighbours now. When I was at United, City had Malcolm Allison and he gave the rivalry a bit of bite with all the stuff he came out with. That spurred us on at United because Malcolm was a bit of a character and he stirred everything up between City and United. City are coming up to challenge again now. They have not had that ability to challenge since the 60s. They won the FA Cup last season. which is a start and which will give them confidence. You can see them challenging United for the title now.
“It’s great because it all brings the glamour again into Manchester. It gets everybody going. All of a sudden, City supporters are feeling good.”
One of the greatest players to set foot on a football field, Denis Law brought to the world, a creative style of football that was never seen before. His rise from a humble background and his journey to success serves as a guide for today’s footballing generation. We wish we get to see many more of Law’s kind and he always will have a special place in our hearts.
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