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1964 Ballon d’Or Winner: Denis Law. The King Of Manchester

Manchester United’s Denis Law was the first and remains the only Scotsman to win the Ballon d’Or since its inception in 1956.

Law signed for Manchester United from Italian side Torino in 1962 and set a British record transfer fee of £115,000 which is equivalent to around £2.5million today.

During his debut season he impressed, having scored 29 goals in 44 appearances across all competitions.

Law’s finest moments over his inaugural year at Old Trafford came in the FA Cup. He netted six times in as many games as United progressed to the final where they beat Leicester City. The forward scored the game’s opening goal with the club lifting only the third FA Cup in their history.

The Scot began his 1963/64 campaign in blistering form and would go on to produce the greatest season of his life.

Denis Law. The King Of Manchester.

Mancunian Magician

Denis Law was nicknamed ‘The King’ along with ‘The Lawman’ by United fans and ‘Denis The Menace’ amongst opposing supporters.

During the 1963/64 campaign Law scored 46 goals in 42 matches. However, his most impressive form came in the league, where the striker found the net 30 times in 30 games.

This total placed him as the fifth top scorer in Division One that season with Spurs Jimmy Greaves finishing top on 35 goals.

Manchester United ended the campaign as First Division runners-up and four points behind eventual Champions Liverpool.

Despite his remarkable domestic form, it would be Law’s displays in European competition that ultimately influenced voting on the continent.

European Royalty

Following Manchester United’s 1964 FA Cup triumph, the English side gained entry to one of Europe’s most prestigious competitions, the Cup Winners Cup.

Law grabbed the attention and headlines on the European stage after scoring six goals in as many matches during the tournament.

In the first round – first leg, he hit a hat trick vs Dutch side Willem II at Old Trafford during a 6-1 win with United progressing 7-2 on aggregate.

Law went on to score three more times against Sporting CP in the Quarter final first leg yet United lost 6-4 on aggregate to the competition’s eventual Champions.

The Scot was also named in World Soccer Magazine’s “World XI” for 1964.

He helped United win the First Division in 1965 and 1967 too although cruelly missed out on their European Cup final triumph of 1968 through injury.

Law spent 11 years at Manchester United, where he scored 237 goals in 404 appearances, his goal tally placing him third on the club’s all-time top scorers list – behind only Wayne Rooney and teammate Bobby Charlton.

He forms part of the “Holy Trinity ” alongside Charlton and George Best with 1964 remembered as perhaps his finest period at Old Trafford and his crowning glory.

1964 Ballon d’Or Top 20

Rank Name Club(s) Nationality Points
1 Denis Law Manchester United (England) Scotland 61
2 Luis Suárez Internazionale (Italy) Spain 43
3 Amancio Real Madrid (Spain) Spain 38
4 Eusébio Benfica (Portugal) Portugal 31
5 Paul Van Himst Anderlecht (Belgium) Belgium 28
6 Jimmy Greaves Tottenham Hotspur (England) England 19
7 Mario Corso Internazionale (Italy) Italy 17
8 Lev Yashin Dynamo Moscow (Soviet Union) Soviet Union 15
9 Gianni Rivera Milan (Italy) Italy 14
10 Valery Voronin Torpedo Moscow (Soviet Union) Soviet Union 11
11 Ferenc Bene Újpest (Hungary) Hungary 6
Karl-Heinz Schnellinger Mantova (Italy), Roma (Italy) West Germany
13 Jean Nicolay Standard Liège (Belgium) Belgium 5
14 Helmut Haller Bologna (Italy) West Germany 4
15 José Torres Benfica (Portugal) Portugal 3
16 Flórián Albert Ferencváros (Hungary) Hungary 2
José Altafini Milan (Italy) Italy
Coen Moulijn Feyenoord (Netherlands) Netherlands
19 Néstor Combin Lyon (France), Juventus (Italy) France 1
Giacinto Facchetti Internazionale (Italy) Italy
Ole Madsen HIK (Denmark) Denmark
Sandro Mazzola Internazionale (Italy) Italy
Bobby Moore West Ham United (England) England
Jef Jurion Anderlecht (Belgium) Belgium
Omar Sívori Juventus (Italy) Italy
Klaus Urbanczyk Chemie Halle (East Germany) East Germany


Denis Law won all of the major honours in his career at Manchester United across the space of only three years including two league titles, FA Cup and European Cup.

Luis Suarez featured on the Ballon d’Or ‘podium’ a total of four times – finishing third in 1965, runner-up twice in 1961 and 1964 – even winning the award in 1960.

Amancio and fellow Spanish international Luis Suarez won the European Championship in 1964 with Spain defeating the Soviet Union 2-1 in the final.

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