Denis Law

Full name: Denis Law
Date of birth: 24/02/1940


Introduction

Denis Law was born on February 24th 1940 in Aberdeen, Scotland, to parents Robina and George. He was the son of a fisherman and youngest of seven brothers. The family was so poor that all his shoes had been handed down and his first pair of boots were a second-hand gift from a neighbour. From a young age he was obsessed with football, spending all his money on watching Aberdeen or smaller local teams play. He disappointed his parents when he turned down a place at a grammar school, as they would have had him playing rugby rather than his beloved sport. He played for his school and showed excellent promise from a young age, soon being picked up by the Scottish Schoolboy’s team. He moved on to play for Huddersfield Town relatively soon after and went on to play for a string of internationally recognised clubs. His achievements and following were such, that the parents of Dutch star, Dennis Bergkamp, named their child after Law. He eventually retired after a glorious career when a recurring knee injury hindered his play to the extent that no club were prepared to take him on for the price tag requested by his final team, Manchester United. He is now recognised as one of the greatest Scottish players in the history of football.


Career Overview

Law was signed to Huddersfield Town in 1955 after a rather uninspiring trial where he was mocked for his small build and poor eyesight that forced him to squint. He underwent correctional surgery that allowed him to play with both eyes open and this not only improved his skills on the ball but also gave him the self-confidence to shine as one of the team’s most inventive young players. He was the youngest player to be signed for the team at fifteen. The team were relegated to the second division and he made his début aged sixteen on Christmas Eve 1956, in a 2-0 win against Notts County. Various offers were made for him during his early years and when his manager left to go to Liverpool, the team could not afford his rising transfer fee. In 1958 he made his international début, scoring against Wales and was signed to Manchester City for a record breaking £55,000 in 1960. Law played an important part in City retaining their place in the First Division, and many thought that he had perhaps made the wrong decision in moving to Manchester City. His performance in international fixtures was slightly less inspiring, and Scotland suffered some massive defeats in the early 60s.

Disappointed by the way his career in England was progressing, he transferred to the Italian team Torino, in the hope of earning more. He struggled to adapt to the style of play on the Continent and as pay was adjusted according to how many goals were scored, he did not reap financial rewards he had hoped for either. After suffering minor injuries in a car accident with fellow footballer Joe Baker, who came off far worse, Law returned to Manchester. He was signed for another record sum, this time a staggering £115,000 on 18th August 1962.

It was with Manchester United that his career really picked up and he began to achieve what he had always hoped for. He created and scored countless goals, his speed and agility and strength in the air soon making him a keen favourite of the fans. He scored in the FA Cup Final in 1963 against Leicester City. The following season Law scored 28 goals for Manchester United, making him the top scorer in the league. His career was dotted with pay disputes with managers, but these were mostly dealt with amicably, in order to maintain club stability and appease the press. His international career never reached the same heights as his achievements at Manchester United, but he scored several important goals against Scotland’s closest rival, England.

Law played his final league games with Manchester City, and famously scored his final goal for them which relegated Manchester United, his previous club. He played one match for Scotland after this in the 1974 World Cup, but his career was essentially finished by this point and he made little impact.


Achievements


Personal

  • European Footballer of the Year 1964
  • Inaugural Inductee of the English Football Hall of Fame 2002
  • Scotland’s Golden Player by the Scottish Football Association (most outstanding Scottish player of the last 50 years) 2003
  • 37 goals in 67 appearances for Manchester City
  • 236 goals in 393 appearances for Manchester City
  • 30 goals and 55 appearances for Scotland
  • Total of 587 league goals in 300 games


Team Titles

  • 1963 FA Cup with Manchester United
  • English First Division Title 1965 and 1967 with Manchester United


Playing Style

Law is regarded as one of the most lethal strikers of his generation, scoring countless goals with his agile techniques and superb aerial plays. His small frame made him particularly nimble, and led to his trademark habit of gripping his long sleeves in his fists when he jumped for the ball. He had extremely sharp reflexes, and this, coupled with his superb awareness of his surroundings and his anticipation, made him one of the most intelligent players ever seen. His passing skills showed amazing foresight and he created countless goals from the midfield where he would regularly be seen supporting his team mates. He was also particularly useful further back on the pitch, because of his sharp tackling skills. His ability to predict his opponent’s movements made him an even more challenging midfield player. His overall style has been described as arrogant and forceful, something which his fans grew to love and led to them nicknaming him “The King”.


Personal Life

Law was married in December 1962 to Diana with whom he still resides in Manchester. They went on to have five children, some of whom have chosen to work with Manchester United in capacities off the pitch. Law also contributes to the club still, and to local media by acting as sports presenter. He remains close friends with his fellow Manchester United team mates.


Player Statistics

Senior Club and National Team Statistics
Period Team Appearances (Goals)
1956-1960 Huddersfield Town 81 (16)
1960-1961 Manchester City 44 (21)
1961-1962 Torino 27 (10)
1962-1973 Manchester United 309 (171)
1973-1974 Manchester City 24 (9)
1958-1974 Scotland 55 (30)