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The King: The Autobiography of Denis Law

Release date: 01st October, 2003
Publisher: Bantam Press

List Price: 17.99
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When thinking of the British players who have won the European Footballer of the Year title, a couple of names come to mind: George Best and Michael Owen are perhaps the most obvious, but in fact there have been five - Sir Stanley Matthews, Kevin Keegan and Denis Law, aka The King.

There was nothing Elvis-like about Law when he was playing; his style combined the bravery of Alan Shearer and the poaching instinct of Ian Rush as his record of 160 goals in 220 games for Manchester United proves.

Born in Aberdeen in 1940, this book is a 'Roy of the Rovers' tale of a boy who was signed by Bill Shankly, then manager of Huddersfield Town, where he made his league debut at the age of 16. After a spell at Manchester City, Law became one of the first British players to ply his trade on the continent, playing for Torino. In 1962, Sir Matt Busby signed Law for a record fee of £115,000 and brought him back to Manchester, this time for United.

Law was an integral part of the striking triumvirate, Best Law and Charlton, with whom he twice who the league championship. He also accumulated 55 caps for Scotland, his most memorable occasion being in 1967 when Scotland became the first team to defeat England, then reigning world champions.

Unusually for a footballer's autobiography, Law pulls no punches when it comes to opinions relating to managers and players and for this, it is a superior read to many of a similar genre.

The end of Law's career at Manchester United was especially poignant. He did not like Tommy Docherty who, he maintains, failed to engender team spirit. The 'Doc' gave Law a free transfer when he was just 33, confirmed in a television report watched by Law after Docherty had agreed an alternative.

Picked up by a struggling Manchester City and on the verge of being transferred to Bradford City, then in the Fourth Division, Law was selected for City's final match of the season, a derby at Old Trafford. United needed a win to avoid relegation, but with 8 minutes remaining, Law's final touch in professional football, a back-heel which flew past Alex Stepney, the King condemned the footballing love of his life to the Second Division.

The picture, reproduced here, which shows Law's reaction to his final goal at Old Trafford tells the story and confirms what George Best once said, "Denis was the best in the business, he could score goals from a hundredth of a chance, never mind half of one." As Law admits, this is one effort he would have preferred to go wide; that he does so is testament to the man's honesty, a constant feature of this enjoyable read.


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