In the summer of 1962 Lawmania
hit Old Trafford as fans instantly recognised a player brilliant
enough to win games almost single-handedly. Over the next six years,
he proved the catalyst for Matt Busby's final push for European
glory and, though he missed the final in 1968, few doubted his influence.
As distinguished Manchester United historian Brian Hughes makes
clear, Law, more than any other player, typified United's flamboyance
in this period.
In the latest of his biographies of former United greats Brian Hughes
traces the Scots career from his arrival at Huddersfield as a 16
year-old to the dramatic conclusion of his career at Old Trafford
playing for deadly rivals Manchester City. As Hughes discovers,
Law remained a headline-writer's dream throughout a career that
saw him land the FA Cup, European Cup and League Championship. Yet
more than mere honours, the fiery Scot was an icon of the sixties
and a hero to United fanatics on the Stretford End. His thrilling,
all-action style marked a player with few peers in this period while
his ability to win games almost single-handed made him the greatest
British player of his generation.
In 1964 Denis was voted European Footballer of the Year, beating
the likes of Luis Suarez and Eusebio to the coveted title. Yet his
meteoric rise to fame didn't seem at all likely when, aged 15, he
was scouted while playing for his school in Aberdeen. Scrawny and
skinny, Law played with a squint until an operation corrected his
vision. When he entered Huddersfield manager Andy Beattie's office
for the first time, the manager believed he was the subject of an
elaborate and very cruel practical joke.
Yet Law proved his doubters emphatically wrong. Under Beattie's
successor, Bill Shankly, he came on leaps and bounds, his magnificent
natural technique now allied to a strength able to withstand the
attentions of the burliest of defenders. By 1958 he was capped for
Scotland aged just 18 and in 1960 and 1961 he was the subject of
big money moves to Manchester City and, later, Torino. But Law seemed
destined for Matt Busby's Manchester United. Busby had already tried
to sign the 16 year-old Law in 1956 but was turned down, so when
Denis fell out with Torino's officials he was quickly on the phone
The mid-sixties saw Denis don the mantel 'King' of Old Trafford
for while Bobby Charlton was respected and George Best adored, Law
was a fan's footballer, living out the dreams of his admirers before
the Stretford End. Even his role in United's eventual fall from
grace and relegation to the Second Division didn't dim the supporters'
affection for him. Quite simply he remains 'the King'.