SCOTZINE today continues its homage to Scotland’s favourite footballing son Denis Law, who celebrated his 79th birthday on Sunday.
Willie Henderson and Lou Macari have already paid their tributes to The Lawman, the country’s joint leading scorer with 30 goals along with Sir Kenny Dalglish, and now it’s the turn for Celtic great Danny McGrain to have his say.
Here is the EXCLUSIVE extract from Alex Gordon’s book, ‘DENIS LAW: King and Country’, which was published in 2013.
DANNY McGRAIN, the iconic Celtic right-back who won sixty-two caps for his country between 1973/82 – four with Law – delivers his verdict:
My first thought when I was informed that Denis Law was being brought back into the Scottish international squad in 1973 was, ‘Wow! I’m going to meet Denis Law.’ My second thought was, ‘Double wow! I’m going to be playing in the same team as Denis Law!’
Seriously, that’s how much it meant to me to meet the player I had adored for such a long time. When the squad were told to meet at the old North British Hotel at George Square in Glasgow, I got there early in the hope of introducing myself to Denis and having time for a wee chat. I half-expected him to turn up on a chariot with horns sounding and all that sort of stuff!
When I arrived Denis was already in the foyer, drinking a cup of tea. This was the bloke I had idolised from afar and there he was standing right in front of me, the great Denis Law. What a nice, genuine bloke. He may have been a superstar in a lot of people’s eyes, including mine, but he was one of the most approachable guys you’ll ever meet.
It was impossible not to be impressed by him. Back then, we didn’t get to see as much football as we do on TV today. I had seen Denis in action, of course, and it was obvious he was a very exciting player, but, in most cases, it was only a fleeting glimpse of his ability. Actually getting to play alongside him was something else altogether. Then you really got to see what a class act he truly was.
It was a delight to play alongside him in the team that beat Czechoslovakia 2-1 on that wonderful night that cemented Scotland’s place in the 1974 World Cup Finals in West Germany. Denis, as ever, played his part. He really put himself about that evening and all he needed to top it off was a goal. Sadly, that didn’t happen, but no-one was complaining as we got the victory we craved and deserved.
It was also a privilege to be in the same team as Denis when we played Zaire in Dortmund in our first game in the World Cup Finals. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would be one of his last team-mates.
I saw Denis not that long ago when we were at a function in Aberdeen. We were sitting at separate tables, but, once again, I was impressed by my old mate. To be honest, he was being pestered by fans who wanted autographs and photographs.
I don’t mind that sort of stuff, but only after I have finished my meal. But there was Denis, halfway through his courses, happily smiling and doing everything that was asked of him. That, too, was typical of the man.
*TOMORROW: My Hero: Another top star pays tribute to The Lawman.