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One third of the Holy Trinity
- Denis Law.
From FourFourTwo May 2000 No. 69.p22.
If its Friday it must be Cheltenham. Thats the life of Denis Law these days, hurtling from one after-dinner to another; from a television engagement here to a radio broadcast there. The legend has never lost its appeal and he is popular and busy as ever.
I have never been far away from football from the day I first kicked a ball, says Law, who still lives within easy driving distance of both the Manchester clubs he serves so well.
I never wanted to go into management or coaching. I worked for some great managers and learnt a lot, but I became involved as a kid because I simply liked kicking a ball about.
I could have had a go but there didnt seem any point, he explains. I was just not interested and if you dont have the passion you will never be able to understand the disappointments, the criticisms and the sheer hard work of being a manager or coach.
That passion was certainly there when Law, European Footballer of the Year in 1964, was playing.
That was different. From an early age I found that football was something I was good at and enjoyed. I especially loved scoring goals and that built as I grew up, says the man they call The King at Old Trafford. As a professional I had the hunger for winning games but an even more developed hunger for scoring goals. Every goal I scored was special.
It is not the same when you are attending board meetings and getting involved in paperwork.
Law learnt a great deal from the 1968 European Cup final, in which he should have been playing but was instead confined to bed.
I watched the game on television, he recalls. I had played in most of the rounds leading up to the final and it was staggering to know that an injury meant that I could not even go to Wembly to watch the game. I joined millions of others and watched it on television.
I suppose that I realised there and then that I could never play football by proxy. It was exhilarating to watch my team battle and win but so frustrating not to do anything other than watch. I think I realised then that the prospect of being a manager and having to watch other people was not for me.
As a professional footballer Denis Law was one of the most exciting players ever to kick a ball. To this day he remains Scotlands joint leading scorer alongside Dalglish. There is an important statistic often overlooked when examining their two records : Laws 30 international goals came in just 55 games, while Dalglish took 102 matches to reach the same tally.
One of his favourite memories is the 3-2 victory over the world champions England at Wembly in 1967. Law scored one of the Scotland goals that day and he explains : We could have had five or six that day. We were determined to beat England on their own ground because we were sick of how wonderful they were after winning the World Cup the previous year.
In the dressing room we knew we were going to beat them. Jim Baxter was even taking bets on how many times he could nutmeg Ray Wilson. He won all his bets, too. At one stage he even got the ball and started juggling with it in the middle of the game. The Scottish fans roared him on. He was really taking the mickey.
Laws love of the sport is evident and in his current capacity as media commentator he still watches and follows football avidly.
Its in my blood, he reveals. I could never walk away from it. I still go to Old Trafford and Maine Road. I cannot wait to see both Manchester clubs in the Premiership.
There is still a member of the Law family actively involved in the game, though. His daughter, Diana, works in the Manchester United press office.
I defy anyone to watch United under Alex Ferguson and not be excited by the performances they witness. The game itself is probably faster and is certainly different to my day, but I still have no regrets about not becoming a manager.
|Bob Dunning 27 April, 2006||
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