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Forward Friday: The King, Denis Law

by Al 14. October 2011 07:17

"The boy's a freak. Never did I see a less likely football prospect - weak, puny and bespectacled."

- Andy Beattie, Huddersfield Town manager 1952-56

Beattie's assessment of a 16-year-old Denis Law may have been slightly harsh, but when he first showed up at Huddersfield in 1955 few could have predicted that he would go on to illuminate British football.

Between 1962 and 1973 Denis Law (pictured right) formed part of Manchester United's 'Holy Trinity' with George Best and Bobby Charlton (left). They were the heartbeat of United's finest ever team. Tenacious, skillful and prolific; with 237 goals in 404 games Law was a true United legend. He remains the second-highest scorer in their history behind Charlton, but the road to Old Trafford was long and winding for the Aberdeen-born striker.

After four years at Huddersfield Town, Law moved to United's bitter rivals Manchester City for a British record transfer fee of £55,000 in 1960. United manager Matt Busby had previously had a £10,000 offer rejected, while Bill Shankly, Law's manager at Huddersfiled from 1957-59, had also failed in a bid to take him to Liverpool.

City had only narrowly escaped relegation from the First Division in the season prior to Law's signing, and after a single season at the club, Law, who made his Scotland debut as an 18-year-old in 1958, resolved to move to a more successful club. He signed for Italian side Torino in the summer of 1961. Law failed to settle in Italy, however, as his playing style clashed with the ultra-defensive Italian approach, and in 1962 he finally moved to United for £115,000, breaking the British transfer record once again.

Law was an instant success at Old Trafford, scoring just seven minutes into his debut against West Bromwich Albion. United were still recovering from the devastating effects of the 1958 Munich air crash, however, and it wasn't until 1963 that he won his first piece of silverware, the FA Cup. Law had scored a hat-trick in the semi-final against his old club Huddersfiled, and he scored again in the final as United upset favourites Leicester City with a 3-1 victory.

Law top scored with 28 league goals the following season and was named European Footballer of the Year as United secured the First Division title for the first time since Munich. More success was to follow, as United won the league again in 1967 and the European Cup the following year, albeit without the injured Law for the semi-final or final.

When Matt Busby resigned in 1969, United's strength began to wane. Law continued to be a prolific presence for the Red Devils, but was unable to add any more silverware to his collection and he moved back to City (pictured below) for one final season before retiring in 1974. 

Law scored 30 times for Scotland in 55 appearances, making him their joint-highest top scorer together with Kenny Dalglish. It is at Old Trafford, however, that he is most treasured. His statue stands on the concourse of Old Trafford's Stretford End, and is a fitting tribute to one of the finest players ever to pull on a Manchester United shirt.

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Take a look at Icons signed Denis Law Manchester United shirt here.

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