A walking trail honouring football legend Denis Law will be a “game-changer” for the area he grew up in, according to community leaders.
Last year plans were announced for an extensive trail and artwork around Printfield, where Mr Law was born and brought up before enjoying a stellar career which saw him become one of Manchester United and Scotland’s greatest-ever players.
The Denis Law Legacy Trust and the Printfield Community Forum want to cement his legacy and inspire local youngsters through the initiative, named the Printfield 10 project in honour of his shirt number.
Campaigners say it could breathe new life into the area and attract visitors from around the world, as well as create jobs.
Denis Law a ‘genuine gentleman’
“Denis is such a genuine gentleman and I know when the forum were trying to do something like this, he was chuffed to bits,” said Margaret England, who was chair of the community forum when the project was brought forward.
“For me it’s about honouring him as a local person, and letting others know that just because you come from a certain area doesn’t mean you can’t do anything you want.
“Every time Denis used to come up to Aberdeen, he would hire a minibus and the first place he took his pals was Printfield. He would show them where he grew up, the bedroom he was born in and how proud he was of this area.
“I think through this trail we should be showing how proud we are of Denis, and I am so chuffed with the council’s decision to give us the money for the legacy trail.”
The project was also due to include murals on the sides of Clifton Court and on the wall outside St Joseph’s Church, but council officials revealed concerns the cost of those would be far higher than first thought.
That aspect has been put on hold for the time being – but councillors agreed to help the campaigners look for alternative funding streams so the development can eventually come to fruition in full.
‘Game-changer for whole of Woodside’
“This is huge,” said Hilton, Woodside and Stockethill councillor Neil Copland, who has campaigned on the issue for several years.
“It is a potential game-changer for the whole of Woodside. It will attract people into the area and it is safe to say the people in Printfield are absolutely delighted.
“This has got the potential to be a world-class tourist attraction for Aberdeen. It will pull people into the area and raise it up.
“There is a huge amount of pride in the area.
“Denis Law is proud of his roots in Printfield, and the people of Printfield are proud of Denis. It’s a two-way street.
“They really like and appreciate Denis Law and the fact he has never forgotten where he came from. That has really resonated with people here.”
Mr Law, 81, won the European Cup with Manchester United, is the joint top scorer for the Scotland national team and is the only Scot to win football’s top individual prize – the Ballon d’Or.
He also turned out for Huddersfield Town, Manchester City and Italian side Torino.
A statue of him stands at Aberdeen Sports Village, while he was awarded the freedom of the city in 2017 in recognition of his achievements. A second statue is to be erected in the city centre.
In August it was revealed he had been diagnosed with dementia.
Trail ‘will inspire youth’
The Denis Law Legacy Trust says the art trail will help inspire local young people to follow in his footsteps.
“The Printfield 10 project is a really exciting one for the local community and we’re delighted that funding and approval took a significant step forward last week,” said Mark Williams, the organisation’s chief operating officer.
“The walking trail will celebrate the legendary achievements of Denis Law, Scotland’s only ever Ballon d’Or winner, while also providing young people in the area with the belief and aspiration that they can match his heights.
“Engaging and inspiring the local community, particular the next generation, is so important to us and we look forward to working with Aberdeen City Council and the local community in the coming months.”
A start date for work on the project has not been confirmed, but it is expected to begin in the next few months.