He has won football’s highest individual achievement, pulled on the blue of the Scotland jersey 55 times, lifted the European Cup and been made a Commander of the British Empire.
But Aberdeen-born Denis Law said that getting the freedom of his home city is one of the “highlights” of his life.
The 77-year-old former Manchester United and Scotland legend has come a long way from his humble roots kicking a tennis ball against the kerbs near his post-war Powis home.
This weekend, he will be bestowed with the freedom of the city honour – following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev and Winston Churchill, with the celebrations culminating with a parade down Union Street tomorrow as the Christmas lights are switched on.
Tonight a civic dinner will be held at the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen, with guests including Lord Provost Barney Crockett and council chief executive Angela Scott.
During the exclusive event, the conferral ceremony will take place – with Mr Law being officially made a trusted friend of the Granite City.
Yesterday, the footballer revealed he thought the council had the wrong number when they first called to tell him the news.
“When I was first told I couldn’t believe it, it is the sort of thing that happens to other people,” he said. “It is one of the highlights of my life.
“It is very difficult to explain but it is something you don’t expect to be awarded with. I thought they had got the wrong guy, that there must be another Denis Law.
“I love coming up to Aberdeen, you don’t realise how lucky you are until you leave Aberdeen and come back.”
The celebrations will continue tomorrow, with Mr Law leading a procession along Union Street as the Christmas lights are switched on.
The parade, with a football theme to mark the occasion, will begin from the top of Union Street at 5.30pm and conclude outside the Town House at around 6.15pm – with the new Freeman due to greet the crowds from the Town House balcony.
Lord provost Mr Crockett said: “Denis has always been a hero for the people of Aberdeen and I think not only his achievements but his attitudes and his behaviour has been a great model for us for decades.”
Although Mr Law said he would not have time to catch up with old friends during his visit this weekend, he is already planning a return trip to the city he holds dear.
He may have left the Granite City when he was 15 to begin his career at Huddersfield, the Scotland star still loves Aberdeen and always checks the Dons score.
“I think I might come back in a couple of months and enjoy what I used to.
“When you’re based in Manchester, you haven’t got the sea or the sand, you’ve got the rain right enough, but you do miss it.”
He also praised the Denis Law Legacy Trust, which offers free sport and creative activities to young people across Aberdeen in an effort to reduce antisocial behaviour and promote health, wellbeing and encourage inclusivity.
Mr Law said: “The legacy trust has just come on leaps and bounds since it was set up, it is fantastic. With the Cryuff court as well I hope it encourages more youngsters.
“When we were growing up, there were no cars, now of course you can’t do that with kids on the streets. It’s sad.”