Sunday, October 31, 2010

Focus On : The Denis Law Story

  "The Lawman', as he was known, would be many people's pick of the greatest natural goalscoiei ever to have appeared for United. During his magnificent spell at Old Trafford in the 19605 he formed an immortal attacking triumvirate with Best and Charlton, the memory of which will endure for all time. He was at his greatest in the 1963/64 season when he rounded off a remarkable collection of scintillating individual performances by being voted European Player of the Year. He scored 30 League goals for United that season, as well as 10 in the FA Cup and 6 in Europe. It would have been even more but for a 28-day ban handed out by the FA in December 1963 for a string of on-field misdemeanours. For Scotland, too, Law's golden season was stuffed with goals. It started with a hat-trick against Norway in Oslo as Scotland contrived to lose a game they dominated 4-3. Then they went to Spain and, inspired by Law, won 6-2. He scored four morein the return with Norway, which Scotland won 6-1 at Hampden. It was one of nine occasions that season when he scored three or more in a game. But beyond the prosaic inventory of goals scored and games won, Law's style marked him out from the rest. His Scotland team-mate, Ian St John, said, 'Denis was two people. Away from the game he was a lamb, but put him on the pitch and he became a tiger. When he got the ball near the goal, he was electric, so quick.

Law needed reservoirs of determination to become a footballer at all. He grew up with a chronic squint and it wasn't until he was an established pro that he had an operation to cure the condition. The young Law was also incredibly skinny. He turned up for a trial at Huddersfield Town and the team's assistant manager recommended he be sent home on the next available train. Bill Shankly later revised his hasty opinion, prescribed the boy a steady diet of steak and milk, made him into a professional footballer and later bracketed him with Tom Finney as one of his two favourite footballers of all time. Perhaps Law's finest hour and a half in that year of years came in October 1963, when he lined up for the Rest of the World XI which played England at Wembley in a game to celebrate the FA's centenary. The global all-star team lost 2-1, but Law stood out in a cast of talent featuring legends such as Di Stefano, Puskas, Eusebio and Gento.

 The story of Denis Law is an astonishing and uplifting tale of triumph over adversity that saw a young Scottish boy from humble beginnings rise to become one of the greatest football players the world has ever seen. Including contributions from Sir Alex Ferguson, George Best and Sir Bobby Charlton.

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