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Discussion Starter #1
I've decided to start a new thread to highlight Manchester United players from the past.

Greatness and history are built over decades and as the club approaches the second decade of the 21st century, we should not forget past players, who contributed to Manchester United's success.

In fact, as proper fans we should seek to learn more about our club's history and the people who have made it great. Most of us on this forum, will only have had the privilege of following Manchester United since Sir Alex Ferguson has been in charge, so this thread will serve as a window to the past.

This doesn't mean that only pre-Ferguson era players will be featured though. :)

Should you have some time to spare, you should also check out the Man Utd trivia thread and the Did you know thread by Jazz 16.
 

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Bill Foulkes

We’ll kick-start the thread with Bill Foulkes.

The player, who ranks at number 3 on the Manchester united appearance chart.
He made a total of 688 appearances and only 3 of them were as a substitute!

FYI, Ryan Giggs has the most appearances with 761 games, but 90 of those were coming off the bench.

Sir Bobby Charlton made 758 appearances, but only TWO of them were as a sub!

From Wikipedia (edited):
William Anthony Foulkes (born 5 January 1932) played for Manchester United in the Busby Babes teams of the 1950s, and also in the 1960s. His favoured position was centre back.

He started in every single United game in the seasons 1957-58, 1959-60, 1963-64 and 1964-65. He scored a total of 9 goals in his 18 seasons at United and helped the club win four First Division titles, one FA Cup and one European Cup. Despite this, he was capped only once for England in 1955.

From manutdzone.com(edited):

A huge, strong, centre-half, Bill Foulkes was a Busby Babe, who survived Munich and played top flight football for nearly twenty years. Foulkes joined Manchester United as an amateur in March 1950, later turning professional in August 1951. In his early days Foulkes combined playing football with work at a coal mine, feeling that he was not good enough to make the grade.

Only when called up to the England team was he convinced to give up his job at the colliery
. He made his debut for United half way through the 1952-53 season as right full-back, but later moved to his favoured position of centre-half. Foulkes was United's wall of steel, who might well have been hewn out of solid rock from the coal-fields he worked in. He enjoyed the physical side of football, being powerful in the air and competent on the floor.

As one of the survivors of the Munich air crash, Foulkes took over as captain of a depleted United team. He led them miraculously to the FA Cup Final at Wembley in 1958 where sadly United lost out to Bolton 2-0. In a distinguished career at Old Trafford, Foulkes won four League Championship medals in 1956, 1957, 1965 and 1967.

The big defender also played three FA Cup Finals in 1957, 1958 and 1963, collecting a winners' medal after the 3-1 over Leicester in 1963. To crown his career he won a European Cup winners' medal in 1968 in that famous Benifca victory. In addition to this he was capped by England at under-23 levels, but his solitary full England cap was poor reward for a player of his obvious calibre.

As a player he was an extremely dedicated fitness fanatic who made the best use out of his strong muscular build. In his earlier days it was claimed that he could have made a name for himself in rugby league had he not chosen to take up football. Upon winning the European Cup in 1968, Foulkes wanted to retire as he felt he had achieve all he could, however Sir Matt Busby persuaded him to stay on for another 2 years. After retiring from playing in 1970, Foulkes was appointed youth team coach at Manchester United. Following this he took up various coaching appointments abroad, including spells in the USA, Norway and Japan, before returning back to England in 1992.

However, although he was a defender, Foulkes is often remembered for the goals he scored. None more so than the 1968 European Cup semi-final when he scored against Real Madrid in the Bernabeau, which put United into the Final.

When he finally left Old Trafford in 1970 he had made a total of 679 first team appearances, plus 3 as substitute and 6 in other games (Charity Shield and World Club championship).
 

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Denis Law

The second installment in our Blast from the Past series will highlight goal-scoring machine, Denis Law, whom fans crowned the King of Stratford End.

A tenacious striker with the uncanny ability to score goals from every conceivable angle, Denis was a firm favourite with the fans and team mates alike.

His great friend George Best described him as: “Up there with the all-time greats. Electric - As a bloke and as a pal he’s different class.”

"Denis was the best in the business, he could score goals from a hundredth of a chance never mind half of one".

He is one of three Ballon d’Or winners the club has produced – the other two being Sir Bobby Charlton and George Best, with whom Denis formed the so-called Holy Trinity. A statue of the trio is now located on Sir Matt Busby Way opposite Old Trafford and another statue of Denis stands on the Stretford End concourse as a lasting monument to his impact on Manchester United.

Born on the 24th of February 1940 in Aberdeen, Scotland, Denis Law began his professional football career with Huddersfield Town in 1956 where he spent 4 years before moving to Man City in 1960 for a British transfer fee record of £55,000.

After a successful season, he was sold to Torino for 110,000, which was a record between a British and Italian club. Although he did well in Italy, Denis did not like the Catenacio style of play and did not manage to settle in the area, which allowed Sir Matt Busby to lure him to the Red Devils in 1962 for another British transfer fee record of £115,000.

The first time United fans saw Law score for the Reds was on 18 August 1962, on his debut against West Bromwich Albion. He was to repeat the feat a further 236 times for United, many of those celebrated with what became his trademark - arm in the air, hand clutching his sleeve, finger pointing at the sky. It was a move aped in the playground by thousands of boys up and down the country, no matter their allegiance.

In his first season at Old Trafford, Denis helped the team reach the final of the FA Cup, where they faced Leicester City. Leicester were strong favourites, having finished fourth in the league, but Law scored the first goal as United won 3–1 in what turned out to be the only FA Cup final of his career.

During a match against West Brom that season, an unfortunate incident took place, which Law felt had negative repercussions for years to come. The referee, Gilbert Pullin, consistently goaded Denis with insulting taunts and after the match, Law and Sir Matt Busby reported the matter to the Football Association. A disciplinary committee decided that Pullin should be severely censured, but he did not accept their verdict and quit the game. Law later claimed that "in the eyes of some referees, Law was a marked man" and blamed the incident for the "staggeringly heavy punishments" that he received later in his career.

In his second year at United, Denis Law famously scored 46 goals in all competitions - a record which Cristiano Ronaldo attempted to achieve last season. Law was also selected to play for a Rest of the World side against England at Wembley, scoring their goal in a 2–1 defeat. He later described this as the greatest honour of his career.

In 1964–65, Law won the European Footballer of the Year award, and Manchester United won their first league title since Munich. Law's 28 league goals that season made him the First Division's top scorer.

The following season, Law injured his right knee while playing for Scotland against Poland on 21 October 1965. He had previously had an operation on the same knee while at Huddersfield and the injury was to trouble him for the rest of his career.
Law continued to score goals at a prolific rate and helped Untied to a second First Division title in 1967.

In 1968, Law endured a start-top season blighted by injury and only scored 7 goals in the league. Even though United became the first British club to win the European Cup, his knee injury was causing him serious problems and he missed both the semi-final and the final as a result.

Sir Matt Busby resigned the following year after United went out of the European Cup, losing the semi-final to AC Milan. United lost the first leg in the San Siro 2–0, winning the second leg at Old Trafford 1–0 with a Bobby Charlton goal. Law put the ball over the line only to see it kicked away by a Milan defender. Law claimed a goal but the referee waved play on and United went out on aggregate.

In the summer of 1973 Tommy Docherty gave Law a free transfer and he moved back to Manchester City.

In City's last game of the 1973–74 season, Law famously scored a goal against Manchester United which guaranteed their relegation from the First Division, only six years after the European Cup final that he had missed. Law's back-heel gave City a 1–0 win, but he was devastated to have relegated United (it turned out they would have been relegated even if the match had been drawn, but Law did not know this at the time) and he did not celebrate the goal, walking off the pitch with his head down as he was substituted immediately afterwards. This game was the last of his professional career, as he retired shortly afterwards, not wanting to be confined to the reserve team of a City side who were bringing in younger players.

Law was recognized in 2003 by the Scottish Football Association as the greatest Scottish footballer of the previous fifty years and was thereby made Scotland's nominee as 'Golden Player' in celebration the Golden Jubilee of UEFA in 2004.

On November 25, 2005, Law was at the bedside of former United team-mate George Best as he died of multiple organ failure.

Denis Law is still married to his wife, Diana, and they still live in the Manchester area. They have five children, and their daughter, also called Diana, works as a press officer for Manchester United.

 
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