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Footballing great Denis Law ‘humbled’ as city centre statue plans approved

Denis Law in 2017, ahead of being awarded the Freedom Of Aberdeen.
Denis Law said plans for a statue in his image outside Provost Skene's House were 'humbling'. Pictured in 2017, ahead of being awarded the Freedom Of Aberdeen.

Footballing great Denis Law has said he is “humbled” by plans to erect a statue in his honour in the centre of Aberdeen.

Born in Printfield, the 81-year-old enjoyed a spectacular playing career across Europe, most notably for Manchester United.

Councillors this afternoon voted to erect a bronze statue of ‘The Lawman’, arm aloft in celebration, near Provost Skene’s House.

The local authority has committed half of the £25,000 cost of putting up the figure near the city’s oldest house, which has just been put through a £3.2 million refurbishment.

Scotland’s joint top goal scorer Law will feature prominently within its new Hall Of Heroes, which celebrates the north-east’s most famous sons and daughters.

It is hoped the placement, close to the recently renovated 16th Century building, would encourage people to “linger longer” and visit the new attraction.

The only Scot to ever win the highest individual honour within football, the Ballon d’Or, Mr Law was awarded the Freedom Of Aberdeen in 2017.

And he told us: “I am humbled by the decision to erect a statue to me in the city centre.

“This makes me feel very proud because, although I left Aberdeen as a 15-year-old, I am still an Aberdonian through and through and a regular visitor to my home town.

“I enjoyed a hugely successful career and met so many successful and interesting people along the way, but to be honoured in this way ranks as a high point for me and my  family and I am grateful to those who have brought this about, namely Aberdeen City Council and the Denis Law Legacy Trust.”

The Denis Law statue will be placed on Broad Street, opposite the Robert The Bruce figure
The Denis Law statue will not be placed on Broad Street, opposite the Robert The Bruce figure

It is understood placement across from the existing Robert The Bruce in Broad Street was the preferred location of the Denis Law Legacy Trust and artist Alan B Heriot, who crafted both effigies.

Aberdeen Sport Village already displays a statue of Mr Law in a similar pose, while he was immortalised outside Old Trafford along with Manchester United’s ‘Holy Trinity’ alongside George Best and Sir Bobby Charlton.

The trust will provide the other £12,500 and is also aiding Printfield residents to draw up plans for an art trail celebrating the sporting great’s birthplace.

Trustee David Suttie said: “This is the culmination of years of work by key members of our organisation who have been dedicated in their efforts to have a statue of Denis erected in a prominent place to mark his remarkable career at the highest level.

“But more than that, he has displayed a humility and has been a wonderful example to young people by showing that, no matter your background, you can make it to the very top.”

Having earned legions of fans around the world during a career which took him from Huddersfield, Manchester City, Torino and Manchester United, it is hoped his image could prove a draw for tourists to Printfield and Woodside – outside of the city centre.

£100,000 Printfield 10 art project deferred

Councillors meanwhile voted to defer spending £105,000 on three murals of ‘The King’ in Printfield – something he described as being “a very special honour” if it could come together.

Designs of the Printfield 10 art project, celebrating Denis Law‘s Woodside roots
Designs of the Printfield 10 art project, celebrating Denis Law‘s Woodside roots

Plans include an image of Law celebrating a goal painted on the northern wall of the Clifton Court sheltered housing block and another in his Scotland kit on the opposite side, which would cost £70,000.

A third timeline mural, priced at £35,000, is hoped for the wall around St Joseph’s Church, highlighting parts of the footballer’s childhood and career up until he lifted the Ballon d’Or – the highest individual honour within the sport.

But Covid has impacted consultation with the community and the church, meaning there were too many unknowns to proceed.

Concerns have been flagged the rough walls would not be “suitable” for the artwork – but these were outweighed by hopes for a tourism boost in the area through potential Denis Law tourist trail.

Denis Law art trail ‘can put Aberdeen on the map’

Councillors agreed to defer spending public cash on the proposals until more information was gathered from the Denis Law Legacy Trust, representatives of the St Joseph Church and the community.

A feasibility study will come back to the city growth and resources committee in August outlining how long it will take to bring the plans to fruition.

Mr Law added: “If this can happen, it will be a very special honour to have my career displayed in artwork at my birthplace.

“I am intensely proud of my Printfield heritage and always like to pop in by on regular visits home to Aberdeen.”

Hopes of Law-fuelled tourist boom

Hilton, Woodside and Stockethill councillor Neil Copland made an impassioned plea to members of the authority’s city growth committee to push ahead with the murals.

He revealed hopes football-loving tourists would be drawn away from the city centre to Printfield to take in the murals.

Mr Copland said: “This is something the people of Printfield want.

“They see it as reinvigorating the area and being a landmark for them and it will also bring a lot of attention to Woodside and hopefully can lead to greater things.

“The city has made Denis Law a Freeman of Aberdeen and we have our Hall Of Heroes where he will be very prominent.

“I think we have to complete the circle by recognising where he came from in the city, his birthplace– this is something the people of Printfield definitely keen to happen.”

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