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DENIS LAW: MY HERO: By FRANK McAVENNIE

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SCOTZINE today concludes its homage to Scotland’s favourite footballing son Denis Law, who celebrated his 79th birthday last Sunday

Willie Henderson, Lou Macari, Danny McGrain, Steve Archibald and Derek Johnstone have already paid their tributes to The Lawman, the country’s joint leading scorer with 30 goals along with Sir Kenny Dalglish.

Now it’s the turn of Celtic striking idol Frank McAvennie to bring down the curtain on our exciting series.

Here is the EXCLUSIVE extract from Alex Gordon’s book, ‘DENIS LAW: King and Country’, which was published in 2013.

FRANK McAVENNIE, the Celtic, West Ham and St Mirren striker who made five appearances for his country between 1985/88, delivers his verdict:

Denis was one of my idols and, okay, I admit I did copy him. So did wee Mo Johnston. Who didn’t? The trademark salute with the sleeves pulled right down as far as they would go after scoring another memorable goal. Sheer genius. The man was different class and everyone adored him.

My dad used to take me to Hampden and Parkhead when I was a kid and Denis was my man with Scotland while Kenny Dalglish was my hero at Celtic.  What a combination they would have been at their peak. Unstoppable, I would have thought. Imagine being a defender and looking up to see these two guys preparing to kick-off. Head-butting a moving train probably would have been more pleasurable.

I was with St.Mirren when I won the Young Scottish Player of the Year award in season 1980/81. Old cliche, I know, but you could have knocked me over with a feather when I was told who would present me the trophy – none other than Denis Law. What a fabulous memory.

I scored a goal against Australia in a World Cup play-off match at Hampden in 1986. It was the first leg of a double-header against the Aussies that would determine which nation got to the finals in Mexico that summer. It was crucial that we won in Glasgow and we duly did with myself and the late, great Davie Cooper scoring the vital goals.

I had bright blond hair at the time, the shirt outside the shorts doing my Denis Law impersonation. It must have done the trick. One of the national newspapers caught the image of me going through the celebrations after my goal and a pal said, ‘My God, I thought Denis Law had made a comeback.’ I took that as a huge compliment.

Denis was a top bloke and I also recall a time when we were both on the Terry Wogan Show during one of my stints with West Ham. It was the top chat show of its time and what a privilege it was to be invited on with such a legend. There’s was a problem, though – Denis had been in a bit of a rush to get up from Manchester to London and had brought the wrong pair of shoes. The ones he had collected in his haste had a hole in them. Typical Aberdonian – never threw anything away!

He grabbed me before we went on live and said, ‘Frank, if you see me crossing my legs give me a nudge. I don’t want the nation to think I can’t afford a good pair of shoes.’

As we prepared to go out to face the cameras, he pulled me aside and whispered,’Don’t be nervous, Wee Man. There are probably only about 23 million people watching the programme tonight.’ I almost fainted at the thought. But that was typical Denis. He enjoyed a joke and he was always marvellous company.

We had a couple of things in common. A lot of what Denis did was completely off the cuff, something that cannot be coached into anyone. I would like to think I could think on my feet, too. Denis always maintained he would never become a football manager and I have to agree with that sort of thinking.

Me, a manager? No thanks. I’m quite happy having hair. It would be ripped out by the handful if I was ever in a dug-out. I’m with Denis all the way on this one, believe me.

* TOMORROW: Law and Baxter, Scotland’s world-class double-act.

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About Author

Editor

Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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