One of the greatest and most famous soccer players that Britain has ever produced is Denis Law; aka “the King”.
Denis Law was a genius in front of goal, who during the 1960s — the Beatles era — was the darling of Manchester United. There, his adoring fans christened him “the King”.
He had all the attributes required of a truly great striker; fantastic acceleration, great vision, spacial awareness, two feet — he could control and shoot with either, prodigious leaping and heading ability, bravery and, although he was a slim guy, he could look after himself!
During his career he represented not only Scotland (55 caps), but the Italian League XI, the Rest of Europe XI and a World XI. He was also voted European Footballer of the Year in 1964.
Law was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1940, where he turned into a fine schoolboy footballer. Unfortunately his home team Aberdeen did not recognise his talents early enough, for he was whisked away to Huddersfield Town when he was barely 15 years old. He played his first professional game for them at the tender age of 16 in 1956, he was that talented.
By the time he was 19, he was already a young goal scorer of immense talent having been called up to the Scottish national team at the age of 18. Big clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, Glasgow Rangers, West Bromwich Albion, Everton and Manchester City were all showing a keen interest. After much deliberation he went to Manchester City in 1960 for a then record transfer fee of 55,000 British Pounds. He only stayed at City for a year or so, but managed to score 19 goals in 37 league appearances, an excellent scoring rate considering City were battling relegation for most of his time there.
That scoring rate impressed no less than Torino of Italy who Law joined in 1961, but in truth things did not turn out how he had expected. He did not speak Italian of course and Italian football was defensive and cynical, not to say actually brutal and violent. During this time though he was playing well enough that he represented the Italian League select, a fantastic honour for a foreign player. He was also voted the best foreign player in Italy by the Italian press. However, he was not really happy there and was glad when Manchester United’s legendary manager, Matt Busby, came to his rescue in the Summer of 1962.
Law signed for Manchester United for another record transfer fee, this time of 115,000 British Pounds. By now he was truly one of the most famous soccer players on the planet. And this was to be the start of a golden era for both Law and Manchester United. During his time at United and playing alongside the likes of George Best, Bobby Charlton, and Paddy Crerrand, he scored 160 goals in 222 games. In 1973, after 11 years at United Law signed once again for Manchester City. Although his best playing days were behind him at the age of 33, he was still more than good enough to play for a top English team. Not only that, he was playing well enough to be chosen for Scotland in the 1974 World Cup!
However, after representing his beloved country in those 1974 World Cup Finals, Denis Law retired from football, turning down offers to play in countries all over the world.
For those of you too young to have even heard of Denis Law, ask your father or grandfather. He was an absolute goal scoring genius who lit-up every game he played in. And the million dollar question: Would he have survived in today’s game? You bet he would. Genius is genius no matter what the era. Denis Law richly deserves the title of “one of the most famous soccer players” in the history of the game.
Long live the King!
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