Manchester United has been graced with many brilliant players down through the decades but there are three that truly stand out in fans and other players’ minds. This is the Holy Trinity of Bobby Charlton, George Best and Dennis Law, the proverbial Englishman, Irishman, and Scotsman. However, these three were no joking matter certainly not for the opposition. They blazed a trail of glory for Manchester United through the 1960s into the early 1970s with the pinnacle being the winning of the 1968 European Cup, the first British club to do so. A bronze statue unveiled in 2008 pays homage to the three stars with them standing in a line arms around the shoulders of each other and with Law’s hand raised, pointing to the stars.
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The sculptor of the football sculpture certainly captured the likeness but where did the trio come from and how did that come to be such a force to be reckoned with?
Sir Bobby Charlton is a living legend. A world cup winner, Fa Cup, League, and European Cup winner he is a man who embodies the gentleman footballer. His career began in 1956 aged 19. He had already played for England Schoolboys and showed immense promise. He was a Busby babe, a product of the Sir Matt Busby’s youth program which was all but destroyed in an air crash in Munich. Charlton would go on to be the anchor of the team as they tried to rebuild it.
Denis Law came to the team 6 years later debuting the same year as Charlton, for Huddersfield Town. He was a rare thing in that he had made a success abroad playing for Torino but had become homesick. Law’s job was simple, score goals and he duly obliged scoring in his opening game. When United finally won a title in the 1964 season, it was the goals and performance of Law, linking with Charlton, that got them it. His contribution was recognized by winning the Ballon d’Or the only Scottish player to do so.
George Best arrived in 1963. The scout that found him sent Busby a telegram saying “I think I’ve found you a genius”. He certainly had and combined with Midfield General Charlton, the goal machine Law and now this mercurial and incredibly skillful talent would explode on the scene to come flying in from the right wing to destroying defenders and supply Law with perfect crosses.
All three won the Ballon d’Or, Charlton in 1966 and Best in 1968. Their legacy remains at the club to this day.