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The Best Goal I Saw Denis Law Score…

Carrying on from The First Time I Saw Denis Law Play, Giles Oakley reflects on Law’s best goal.

On the eve of United’s Champions League Final against Barcelona, this is a good moment to remember Denis Law, the greatest Red to miss out on a final at such a level. No-one deserved a European Cup winner’s medal more than the King of the Stretford End but tragically he was stuck in a hospital bed after surgery for a recurrent knee injury the night that United beat Benfica 4-1 at Wembley in May 1968. No-one could have known it on that night of triumph, but that was the last trophy United were to win in Denis’ time at Old Trafford, something which has always grieved me on his behalf, as the greatest goal-scorer I have ever seen, bar none, and one of the most exciting players ever to grace the shirt.

In my earlier account of the first time I saw Denis Law play for United, I promised to describe the greatest goal I ever saw him score, but I fear I have rashly set myself a seriously difficult task, and not just for the obvious reason that he scored so many great goals. That’s true of course, as Denis scored 237 goals in his 400-plus appearances for United, a good few of which I saw either on TV or in the flesh, but no, my problem is rather different. I’m not sure I can actually describe the one I regard as Denis’ greatest goal because I don’t know exactly what happened. All I can say with certainty was that the ball hit the back of the net with astonishing ferocity. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and I will have to return to that goal later, by which time I may have been able to work out what really happened…

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14 Comments

  1. gotta hate tiny tears and co. says:

    Giles Oakley ,no offence to costas because ive loved his links the last 2 days
    but that fantastic artical has got me so pumped up for the final
    i loved how detailed it was
    and i also hate how lucky you where
    i loved reading it and i must say ill enjoy reading it again after i submit this comment

  2. Manchester united forever says:

    Great post Giles oakley. Your memory is just awesome. After reading thru this article how i wish i could have been there with you all to celebrate that goal.
    Once again thank you for this brilliant article and i’ll wait for the others to follow.

  3. wazza says:

    nice one Giles. any article on Sir Matt ?

  4. Sauron says:

    After reading this article, I just checked out some George Best videos on youtube. & tis what I saw: he had amazing ball control & most of challenges on him were agricultural by today’s stds; yet he always glibly skipped over & around them!! Truly phenomenal!!

    Which brings me to my question: does Messi even hold a candle to Best, leave alone Maradona???

    I guess I’m saying that I do see quite some similarities between the 2…

  5. tommy taylor says:

    Brilliant post Giles, I’ve been watching United since the age of 12 in 1954
    and you brought back many happy memories and made me realise how
    fortunate I have been to see so many wonderful players over the years
    including the latest squad who I hope will add another chapter in Rome
    tomorrow.
    I BELIEVE.

  6. theboogeyman says:

    Brilliant article,Giles.And thanks for wishing me good luck…

  7. Giles Oakley says:

    Thanks for all the nice comments, much appreciated. It was fabulous to see the video clips of Denis, which make any words redundant and prove that he would have been a great in any era. I really liked hearing from Tommy Taylor (just saying that has a certain magic). It’s brilliant that we have someone on who saw the Babes, and that there’s someone older than me! Of course I saw some of the original Babes, but only those that survived Munich. LIke you, Tommy, I feel privileged to have seen so many great players, so many I can’t fit them all into my favourite team. And Wazza, I will get round to Sir Matt, I promise. I should have done it for the 100th birthday, but actually everything is rightly getting overtaken by the Final. There is now so much news pouring out it’s swamping everything else. I’ll maybe do Matt when things have quietened down a bit. Any other requests?

    Hope it went well, Boogeyman.

  8. theboogeyman says:

    It did,Giles,i got 79.2% on average,including 61 in hindi and 81 in social science,2 subjects I had been failing for the last 2 years.And 95% in maths…

  9. Giles Oakley says:

    Hey Boogeyman, that’s fantastic.Congratultions. Let’s hope that’s a good omen for the Final…

  10. Manchester united forever says:

    Yes one other request Giles – please also write about different teams that united have had over the years i.e. About busby babes and the team rebuilding after the munich crash, the golden generation of scholes, beckham,etc. And also please don’t forget about the dark periods of the 70′s and 80′s where the fa cup was our only hope of any silverware. Because although we have had some magnificent players over the years but it’s the team that counts .

  11. Sean Reilly says:

    Hey, I really enjoyed your first article, so I am delighted to have read this one. I just want to make a point. Being 40 now, I recall during the 80′s Denis Law was shown absolutely no favours by the media or sports magazines, particularly when they compared Ian Rush and Gary Lineker to Greaves and Law. Law was presented as a supreme goalhanger.

    Neither Rush nor Lineker could hope to dribble like Greaves… Law puzzled me… ‘how could a mere goal hanger ever have won the European player of the year in ’64?’ I asked myself. And Law’s career goal totals quite frankly were not a patch on Greave’s.

    I see now just what Law was up to his knee problems in ’65… he was a GREAT GREAT FOOTBALLER… he had the same genius Finney, Alex James, Peter Doherty, Johnny Haynes had… an electric figure.

    The whole goalpoacher label was an insult really.

  12. RedScot says:

    Chilling Giles i cant add history to the players i watch on MUTV, you do with just your class.
    Magnificent.

  13. Paul says:

    Loved the article and agree wholeheartedly. I don’t know if it was the best goal Denis scored but I was at Old Trafford on the day as a 16 year old Forest fan and I believe it was the best goal I ever saw scored against Forest.

  14. Giles Oakley says:

    Note: Patrick Collins lifted my description of Denis Law’s goal virtually word-for-word in an article entitled ‘Rooney’s Goal of a Lifetime’ in the Mail on Sunday February 13. It was used in a side-bar on various great goals, asking ‘So was it the greatest ever?’ I’m flattered as Collins is a great writer. It’s pleasing too that pros read RoM.

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