Manchester United Legends
Manchester United - the world's most famous football club
Manchester United Football Club are an English Premiership football (soccer) club, based at the Old Trafford stadium in Trafford, Greater Manchester, and are one of the most popular sports clubs in the world, with over 50 million supporters worldwide. They have achieved a pre-eminence in world football by consistently producing free flowing, exciting attacking football. To achieve this they have had in their teams over the years some brilliant individual masters of the game - the Manchester United legends.
This lens presents, in purely chronological order, the career and achievements of seven of the best known of these legends - Duncan Edwards, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Denis Law, Roy Kean, Eric Cantona, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Two are deceased, one is a current player, one is a Director of Manchester United, the others are still involved with the game. There are two Englishmen, one Scot, one each from Eire and Northern Ireland, one from France and one from Potuguese Madeira. All have made an outstanding contribution to the great club for which they played. All have earned the right to be members of the very exclusive club known as The Manchester United Legends.
Potentially, the greatest British footballer the world has ever seen
In the parish church of St Francis, in the Midlands town of Dudley, stands a stained glass window, a unique memorial to the life of a remarkable young man. Few are the footballers who could have been commemorated in this way, but Duncan Edwards was not an ordinary footballer.
He was 21 when he died, a victim of the terrible Munich air crash that claimed the lives of eight Manchester United players.
Duncan Edwards was born in Dudley, in the English Midlands, on October 1, 1936. He signed for Manchester United in June 1952 as an amateur and turned professional on October 1, 1953. He was one of the Busby Babes, the young United team formed under manager Matt Busby in the mid 1950s.
Of all the tragic stories coming from that fateful day the loss of Duncan Ewards to both Manchester United and England is possibly the greatest. According to those who experienced what Duncan Edwards could do on a football field, he was the complete footballer and there wasn`t a single weakness in his game. He could dribble like a winger and pass like an inside forward. He had unrivalled stamina and could have run for days. He could shoot powerfully, with either foot, was dominant in the air and could tackle like a tank, such was the range of ability he possessed in his young body. He was a fantastic player and admired by all. Bobby Charlton, team-mate and Munich survivor, said: "If I had to play for my life and could take one man with me, it would be Duncan Edwards."
Many who saw Edwards play believe that had he not died young, he would have gone on to become one of the all-time world footballing greats.
There are plans to erect a statue to him in Dudley. It is not before time, for Duncan Edwards may well have been the greatest British footballer the world has ever seen.
The balance of Nureyev, the power of a cannon
Sir Bobby Charlton, CBE (born 11 October 1937 in Ashington, Northumberland) helped win the World Cup and was named the European Footballer of the Year in 1966.
He is arguably the greatest English footballer to have lived and he is without doubt one of the most famous English players of all time. His name is synonymous with some of the greatest moments in the English game but also with the highest traditions of sportsmanship and integrity. Charlton, using his pace out of midfield and with a thunderous shot, scored some of the most spectacular goals English football has ever seen.
Born in Ashington, Northumberland, the Charlton family had football in its blood. Three of his uncles played for Leeds United and his mother's cousin was the Newcastle United legend, Jackie Milburn. In 1953 he was signed by Manchester United aged just 17 and would go on to spend the next 17 years at Old Trafford.
As one of the "Busby Babes" to survive the Munich Air Disaster he was in the great United side of the Fifties alongside Duncan Edwards, Roger Byrne and Tommy Taylor, as well as the team of the Sixties featuring Denis Law and George Best that produced some of United's greatest ever football.
Initially a striker, he switched to outside-left with England and finally became a deep-lying centre forward renowned for his powerful shooting. To say that Bobby Charlton could hit a ball is the understatement of the century. Some of his famous long-range torpedoes have gone down as all time classic goals for both England and United.
In his twenty years as a player at Manchester United he made 752 starting appearances, plus 6 in other games (Charity Shield and World Club championship) and two as sub. This is still the all time record for any player at the club.
He is considered by many international football experts to be one of the greatest players of all time.
The King - The Lawman
Denis Law (born February 24, 1940, in Aberdeen, Scotland) signed for Manchester United in 1962, setting a British record transfer fee of Â£115,000.
He spent eleven years at United, where he scored 236 goals in 409 appearances and was nicknamed The King and The Lawman by supporters. He won the prestigious European Footballer of the Year award in 1964, and helped his club win the First Division in 1965 and 1967. Law left Manchester United in 1973 and returned to Manchester City for a season, then represented Scotland in the 1974 FIFA World Cup. Law played for Scotland a total of 55 times and jointly holds the Scottish international record goal tally with 30 goals. Law is also United's second highest goalscorer behind Bobby Charlton.
Denis Law was a magical football player, fast of thought as well as body. His lightening reflexes and heading skills made him a great crowd puller and favourite with United fans. Of only medium height and slim in build, Law had a lions heart and a salmons leap. Always playing with his long shirt sleeves distinctively gripped in each fist, he could frequently out-jump much taller men to score with his head. Denis could score from anywhere and close in he was lethal. If the keeper fumbled he pounced and within seconds the Law-man was wheeling off, arm up in celebration. He was tough, determined, and utterly committed to the team cause. There is a pub in North Manchester called The Kings Head. The sign outside depicts, not Charles the Second or George the Third but Denis Law - The King.
Manchester United vs. Arsenal, at Old Trafford, October 1967
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Celebrate the goals that have made Manchester United the greatest British team of the modern era. Relive four hours of goal crazy action spanning from the heady days of the 60s to the current great goals scored by Fergie's latest crop of superstars.
Pele good; Maradona better; George Best.
George Best (22 May 1946 - 25 November 2005) was from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He won the European Cup with Manchester United, and was himself named the European Footballer of the Year in 1968. He was a winger whose game combined pace, acceleration, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to beat defenders.He is generally regarded as one of the greatest players ever to grace the game.
At the age of 15, Best was discovered in Belfast by Manchester United scout Bob Bishop, whose telegram to United manager Matt Busby read: "I think I've found you a genius." His local club Glentoran had previously rejected him for being "too small and light". Best was subsequently given a trial and signed up by chief scout Joe Armstrong.
Best made his Manchester United debut, aged 17, on 14 September 1963 against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford in a 1-0 victory. Two weeks later Best scored his first goal against Burnley. By the close of the season Best had 6 goals, and Manchester United finished second, behind champions Liverpool.
In his second season, 1964-65, Best and Manchester United claimed the league title.
Best hit the headlines the age of twenty when he scored two goals in a European Cup quarter-final match against Benfica in 1966, and was dubbed "El Beatle" in the press.
He could shoot brilliantly with either foot and out-jump much taller opponents to win the ball in the air. Imbued with the confidence and arrogance to try absolutely anything, Best would often make a fool of some of the games greatest players.
Despite his slight frame, he had tremendous physical strength and resilience, along with an almost unnatural elasticity of limb and torso. George was strong enough to take the knocks and abuse from the less talented players who would try to hack him out of the game. In an age where players did not receive protection from referees and the so called "hard-men" played the game, Best took it all on the chin and triumphed regardless. When he tried one trick too many and lost the ball he would fight twice as hard to get it back.
Playing as a winger and sometimes striker, he would inspire his team and bring a crowd, home or away, to its feet. The man from Belfast was born with a wonderful gift.
Gallic Flair from the 'New King'
Eric Cantona (born May 24, 1966 in Marseille) is a French former footballer of the late 1980s and 1990s who ended his professional footballing career at Manchester United where he won four Premiership titles in five years, including two league and FA Cup "doubles". Cantona is often regarded as having played a major talismanic role in the revival of Manchester United as a footballing powerhouse and he enjoys iconic status at the club. In 2001 he was voted their player of the century, and to this day United fans refer to him alongside Denis Law as "The King".
Eric was perhaps the most influential footballer in English footballer of the 1990s. A player of true vision and creativity, worthy of that now, much over-used word, "genius". His passing, innovation and influence was unrivalled, he could split a defence with the sort of pass that only he could create. Eric had an exhilarating array of skills, back-heels, stylish flicks, turns and lobs combined with immaculate ball control and touch.
His shooting from long-range was superb while one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he was ice cool and clinical. If opposing defenders lost concentration for a millisecond, it would be enough for Cantona to punish them and set the Reds on the way to another vital victory. Together with a sometimes unpredictable Gallic temperament, Cantona was a one-man footballing phenomenon.
After his departure, United never really did replace him, there was no-one like him and no-one would ever be like him. A true great and legend, Eric "The King" Cantona, we will probably never see his like again.
Classic Matches spans 4 decades of thrilling, sublime football that proves when at their best the Reds are more than a match for any team in England and Europe. Six matches are featured and DVD extras include Classic Volleys, Classic Headers, Classic Strikes, Classic Free Kicks, Classic Chips and the Top 10 Classic Goals.
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He made his mark
"Every place he has departed from, he has left behind too big a gap for any one person to fill. Every place he goes to shudders with the thrill of excitement and the whiff of cordite that he brings to the business."
Roy Keane (born 10 August, 1971, Cork, Ireland) led United to 9 major honours, making him the most successful captain in the club's history. Keane's trophy haul with Manchester United includes: 7 Premiership titles (1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003), 4 FA Cups (1994, 1996, 1999, 2004), a European Cup (1999) and an Intercontinental Cup (1999).
He was known for his aggressive and highly competitive style of play, giving 100 percent in each game and expecting the same from his team-mates; an attitude which helped him excel as captain of Manchester United from 1997 until his departure in 2005. Keane helped United achieve a period of unprecedented success throughout his twelve-year tenure, during which he established himself as one of the greatest players in the club's history.
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro, (born 5 February 1985), better known as Cristiano Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo was born in Madeira, Portugal, to his mother Maria Dolores dos Santos Aveiro and his father JosÃ© Dinis Aveiro. He grew up with an elder brother Hugo, and two elder sisters, Elma and Katia. Katia works as a singer by the stage name "Ronalda" in Portugal. His second name ("Ronaldo") is relatively rare in Portugal. His parents named him after former U.S. President Ronald Reagan because he was his father's favourite actor, and not for political reasons.
He is still maturing as a player and it is salutry to realise that we have still not seen his best. He is now the highest-paid player in United history.
He has cleaned up with the individual awards: PFA player of the year, PFA Young player of the year, Football writers player of the Year, Manchester United fans player of the year.
What makes Ronaldo so exciting to watch is his collection of skills; while some players are good crossers, good shooters or good passers (rarely all three), Ronaldo can do it all. Ronaldo can outdribble any defender, he can cross as well as David Beckham, and he can shoot with range and strength. Now, one of the most recognised faces in the world game, Ronaldo's time has arrived and after years of potential he has joined the ranks of the world's truly great players.
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