Denis Law, who was named as Football Aid’s Patron in 2010, enjoyed a wonderful 18 year playing career as a prolific and hugely skilful striker with club and country, winning the English League title twice, the FA Cup and being voted the European Footballer of the Year.
(Denis Law is pictured above with Football Aid’s Chief Executive David Dale at the Man Utd Masterclass event at Carrington in 2010)
Law was born in Aberdeen in 1940 but he was to start his professional career south of the border, making his debut at just 16 yrs of age with Second Division side Huddersfield Town. After impressing in his 4 seasons with the Terriers, Law was transferred to Manchester City for a then British transfer record fee of £55,000. Law’s impressive form continued but his 1st spell at City was to be short-lived, with the team struggling in Division One Law was eager for a new challenge and he joined Italian giants Torino in 1961 for another British record fee of £100,000.
However things were far from straight forward in Italian football for Law, his signing was disputed by a rival club before he even kicked a ball and when he did get onto the pitch he found it difficult to adapt to the highly defensive style of play. Things came to a head at the end of the season when an argument with his coach led to him walking out and demanding a transfer. The club eventually agreed to transfer Law to Manchester United for what was his 3rd straight British record fee of £115,000.
The 11 seasons at Old Trafford that followed were undoubtedly the glory years of the Lawman’s career. Signed by fellow Scotsman Sir Matt Busby - who had given Law his 1st cap for Scotland when he was 18 - Law made an instant impact, scoring on his debut against West Brom. Despite a poor league campaign the club won the FA Cup in his debut season, with Law scoring the 1st goal in the 3-1 final win over Leicester City in 1963. The following season Law scored a sensational 30 goals in 41 games and in May 1964 was named European Player of the Year, fully justifying his nickname of The King! By this time the United side was hitting its stride and with the Holy Trinity of Law, Charlton and Best working in tandem the side went on to win League titles in 1965 (with Law the division’s top scorer with 28 goals) and 1967. However by this time a serious knee injury had started to affect his career and Law was prevented from appearing in the semi-final and final of the club’s European Cup winning run in 1968. Law helped the club to the semi-finals the following year, but they were narrowly defeated by AC Milan and their long serving Manager Busby was to leave the club soon after.
With Law’s knee injury still troubling him, Best in decline and Charlton nearing the end of his career the club was struggling to match the highs of the previous decade and 2 coaches came and went by the time Tommy Docherty allowed Law to leave in 1973 at the age of 33. It was the end of a glorious 11 year spell at the club, with Law scoring an incredible 237 times in 404 total appearances, placing him 2nd in the all time scorers list at the club and he will always be admired and revered by the Old Trafford fans for his tenacity and never say die attitude, as well as his undoubted talents
The final act of his club career was to be played out across town at City, with Law joining the Maine Road side for the 2nd time. In one of the most iconic moments of his career Law scored an instinctive back-heel goal for City in a crucial match against his former club. Thinking that his goal had relegated United he famously didn’t celebrate what was to be the final goal of his career and asked to be substituted immediately afterwards. It was a heartbreaking moment for Law, but to the watching fan it summed up what playing for United had meant to Law and his sportsmanship has resonated down the years.
Law was also a hugely influential player at International level, making his debut for Scotland at 18 and scoring 30 times in his 55 appearances, making him the Country's joint all time top goal scorer. Law ended his career playing for Scotland at the World Cup in 1974 and gained great pleasure in being part of the Scotland team that defeated the then World Champions England at Wembley in 1967. To cap it all in November 2003 he was awarded the Golden Player title, having been voted Scotland's single most outstanding player of the past 50 years by the SFA for UEFA's 50th anniversary.
Since retiring from the game Law has remained a passionate follower of Manchester United and Scotland, with his expert views always highly sought after in the media. He had the honour of being named as one of the 22 players initially named in the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame in 2002 and in the same year Law’s status as “The King of the Stretford End” was recognised with the unveiling of a statue depicting the striker in his prime. Law was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in his hometown in 2005.
Denis Law was named as Patron of Football Aid in February 2010 taking over from the late Sir Bobby Robson, speaking on his appointment, ‘The King’ commented: “I am delighted to be named as Patron of Football Aid, and look forward to being part of the team. Sir Bobby was a great man, with a real passion for his charitable work, and I am honoured to be involved with this great organisation. The work Football Aid do and opportunities they provide to supporters is superb, and with so many different charities benefiting from the ‘Live The Dream’ events, it really is a fantastic organisation.”