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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