Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Fitting tribute to legendary lawman Denis

Denis Law
Denis Law

It’s nearly 50 years since Denis Law was in his pomp, yet the memories of this remarkable fellow remain indelible.

Even when the TV pictures were in black and white, Mr Law did everything in technicolour with an effervescence, which propelled him into the pantheon of sporting greats.

There were never any airs or graces, wherever he travelled, regardless of his reputation. And he has remained joyously in love with football and stayed true to his roots throughout his distinguished career.

That explains why the celebrations will be heartfelt when Denis receives the Freedom of Aberdeen today; because it was the place where he grew up with a relish for the game he has graced.

At the height of his powers, he genuinely was a wondrous, mischievous sprite. He dazzled for Scotland and scored one of the goals when they famously defeated world champions England 3-2 at Wembley in 1967; he shimmered in helping Manchester United become an iconic force who lifted the European Cup a year later; and he oozed talent, technical ability and a temperament which handled any setbacks.

The statistics speak for themselves – he amassed 30 goals in 55 Scotland internationals and 237 goals in 404 appearances at Old Trafford and helped the club win the First Division in 1965 and 1967 – but they never told the full story.

Because, whether in refusing to celebrate his goal which consigned United to relegation after he moved to their great rivals, Manchester City in the 1970s, or in his obvious delight at performing alongside such stellar figures as George Best and Bobby Charlton, there is a decency, dignity and sense of derring-do stamped in his DNA.

Even at the age of 77, the former winner of Fifa’s Ballon d’Or has remained as committed to helping his native city as he possibly can be.

Quite simply, Denis is Aberdeen’s greatest-ever footballer. He never played for the Pittodrie club, but his roots were hewn in granite and he has returned home to his roots on a regular basis with a smile and a determination to help disadvantaged kids gain the opportunity to follow in his footsteps.

There was nothing remotely flash or sophisticated about his background while he was growing up at 6 Printfield Terrace. This was in another time from the current situation where many footballers command eye-watering salaries and there is wall-to-wall satellite TV coverage of the sport on and off the pitch.

As he recalled: “Dad was a trawlerman, he was always at sea, so I never really knew him man to man, which is something I always regretted.

“Life was basic in Aberdeen when I was growing up, it was very down-to-earth. Clothes were paid for on tick, music was a comb-and-paper and Christmas was a Dinky car, a tangerine, a packet of Spangles and an uncrackable nut – but the lad next door would have got no more.”

“At Huddersfield, my starting wage was £4 a week and once I had paid my digs and sent money home, I had a £1 left. But the cheapest fish supper in town cost a shilling, so I survived.”

Denis always recounts these stories with a sparkle in his eyes. Many former stars gradually turn into cantankerous curmudgeons, forever complaining things aren’t as good as they used to be in their day.

But it has never been that way with the “Lawman” whenever he has become involved in a new project or charity undertaking, whether unveiling a statue of himself at Aberdeen Sports Village or launching a council initiative to remove “No Ball Games” signs from his home city.

Indeed, even in his late 70s, he still has traces of the same blithe boy who didn’t receive his first pair of boots until he was a teenager, but who subsequently developed into one of his country’s true nonpareils.

Listen to him, for instance, marvelling at being involved with the great United side, under Sir Matt Busby.

He said: “We didn’t get a great deal of money at the time but, of course, when I saw George Best come to the club as a young boy at 15, 16, I just looked at him and thought: ‘Oh, this is going to be something special’.

“It doesn’t always turn out that way, but it did with him and it was just lovely to play alongside him and enjoy the game with the likes of Bobby Charlton.”

This is the same fellow who was asked two years ago whether the team he played for in the 1960s would get the better of the 2015 edition.

He replied they would beat the current side 1-0, and, when asked why they would only win by such a narrow margin, joked: “Because we’re all in our 70s now!”

That down-to-earth approach has been obvious from the outset, when he first developed an infatuation with sport.

As Denis recalled, of his days in the Granite City: “My young life revolved around playing football. There was no television then and people lived by their radio sets.

“All the kids did was play in the streets. You kicked a ball against the wall all the way to school, then you had a game when you got there.

“At the mid-morning break, you had another game and you kicked a ball home at lunchtime and so it went on and on. It was just a massive part of my life and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in love with football.

“I couldn’t wear glasses to play in a proper match, so I developed a unique system for coping with it.

“I learned to play football with one eye closed.

“And I kept my glasses on for as long as I could, while I put on my jersey and socks and boots. Then, when the moment came to go on to the pitch, I used to close my right eye and keep it closed for the whole of the match.

“I learned to play through an entire match using only one eye and I went on doing it for years. The bottom line is that it’s a simple game – there’s you and a football and your teammates.

“If you all train together and love it, you soon get to know what you and the guys around you are doing.”

Perhaps his vision wasn’t of the 20-20 variety. But he has revelled in looking at the bigger picture and remaining loyal to his origins.

Those who make the effort to venture to the north-east will soon discover there isn’t just a Denis Law Legacy Trust, but also a thriving Streetsport initiative, which now reaches out to many different areas of Aberdeen and nurtures and nourishes as many as 10,000 youngsters within their own communities.

This is another flourishing initiative, something which Denis has actively encouraged even while suffering a few health scares during the last few years.

Friends, colleagues and complete strangers seeking an autograph testify to the fact he is modest, down-to-earth and possessed of a distinctive gallows humour, such as when he recalled being part of the Scotland side which was thrashed 9-3 by England at Wembley in 1961.

As he said: “I could not believe it when I got in to the dressing room after the game and discovered that [Scotland goalkeeper] Frank Haffey was singing in the bath!

“The rest of us were trying to drown ourselves. As a matter of fact, we were trying to drown him.

“When we finally got on the bus to leave the stadium, the Scottish fans were banging on the sides and throwing bottles at us as we travelled down Wembley Way.

“Most of us were crouching down out of sight, because bottles were bouncing off the windows.

“But I looked up for a second at one point, and there was Frank, waving to the fans as if he was the Queen.”

On many other occasions, it was Denis who was celebrating famous triumphs. But this wonderful fellow kept his feet firmly on the ground.

And, of course, it hasn’t hindered him in the slightest, while being awarded a CBE, as the prelude to gaining this latest honour.

Ultimately, he has been accorded the Freedom of Aberdeen – the first person to receive the accolade since the Scotland the What trio in 2008 – not just because he was a sublimely talented footballer in his younger days, but for the fashion in which he has illuminated so many people’s lives on his travels.

And quite literally in his case: as Huddersfield aficionado Doug Thomson said this week: “There’s still a real pride down here that he started his great career at this club.

“I’ve spoken to fellow players and supporters who saw him. It’s not just his talent they talk about, but his determination to succeed and his bravery.

“The floodlights at the old ground, Leeds Road, were known as the Denis Law lights, because his transfer [to Man United] paid for them.”

As the legendary manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, once remarked: “We all need role models in life. Denis was a year and half older than me. I looked at him and thought: ‘That’s what I want to be.”

It is one of Mr Law’s most distinctive characteristics: that this special talent and SFA Hall of Famer has never made a fuss about how special he actually is.

Denis Law will be conferred with the Freedom of Aberdeen at the Beach Ballroom today. He will also take part in an open-top car parade along Union Street, during the Christmas lights switch-on tomorrow, after which he is scheduled to appear at the Lord Provost’s balcony at 6.30pm.

Denis Law will be following in the footsteps of some very famous names, both from his homeland and across the wider world, when he receives the Freedom of Aberdeen today.

Here, we profile some of those on whom the honour has previously been bestowed and the year in which they were awarded it.


The Scots-born industrialist, business magnate and philanthropist led the expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and is often identified as one of the richest people (and richest Americans) ever. His 1889 article proclaiming “The Gospel of Wealth” called on the rich to use their largesse to improve society, and stimulated a wave of philanthropy.


The famous wartime leader failed to get a mandate from the British public at the general election following the end of World War II. But he was commemorated in Aberdeen for his stirring oratory and “We shall fight them on the beaches” philosophy once the Nazis had been defeated.


The South African political activist, who went on to become his country’s president, could not receive the freedom accolade in person – he was still imprisoned by his country’s former apartheid-supporting rulers. However, following his release, he thanked Scotland for supporting him throughout his decades of incarceration and became a prominent champion of reconciliation in the “Rainbow Nation”.


The eighth and last leader of the former Soviet Union was widely recognised as a progressive figure who helped improve relations between east and west. Mr Gorbachev’s policies of glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”) and his reorientation of Soviet strategic aims contributed to the end of the Cold War.


The former Aberdeen manager steered the Dons to a momentous victory over Real Madrid in Gothenburg in 1983 to help the Pittodrie club win the European Cup-Winners Cup. He subsequently became the most successful manager in the history of the English Premiership at Manchester United, and piloted the Red Devils to a brace of Champions League triumphs.