United Trinity statue of George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton at Old Trafford

When Best, Law and Charlton first played together

The date 18 January marks a major milestone in Manchester United's history, because, back in 1964, that’s when George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton featured in the same starting line-up for the first time.

It was an away game at West Bromwich Albion and it ended in a 4-1 victory – with all three of them scoring.

The trio would come to be known collectively as 'The United Trinity' and, together, they made a total of 1,632 appearances and scored 665 goals for the Reds, before later being immortalised in a bronze statue outside Old Trafford.

Here we remember their remarkable careers with the help of three objects from the club's museum, beginning with a prestigious individual honour that Best, Law and Charlton famously all won in the space of four years...

BALLON D'OR

Ballon D'Or
The Ballon d'Or presented to Denis Law in 1964.

Having scored an incredible total of 46 goals in one season (1963/64 – still a club record to this day), Law became the first United player to receive the Ballon d’Or, a golden trophy presented to the European Footballer of the Year.

Next up was Charlton, whose outstanding performance in the 1966 World Cup earned him not only the Player of the Tournament award but also made him our second Ballon d’Or winner.

The third Red to receive it was Best in 1968, following United’s victory over Benfica in the European Cup final that year.

SHOOTING BOOTS
A pair of boots worn by Bobby Charlton
A pair of boots worn by Bobby Charlton.

Another feat the trio all achieved was to be United's top scorer in a season, multiple times. Law managed it in his maiden campaign, 1962/63, after netting 29 times, including one in the 1963 FA Cup final. With an eventual tally of 237, the Scot continued to delight the Stretford End faithful with his attacking abilities and he topped the club's goal charts in a further four seasons.

Charlton’s staple long-distance strikes put him on top of the scorers' list for the first time in 1958/59. His 29 goals that term played a crucial part in United’s post-Munich recovery. He repeated his effort on a further two occasions, including his last season with the Reds in the early 1970s, when he completed his haul of 249 - a club record that stood until 2017.

Best secured first place in the chart at the end of our European Cup-winning season of 1967/68, after scoring a total of 32 goals, including one in the final against Benfica. He'd be our top scorer in four seasons overall before leaving the club with 179 strikes to his name.

RECORD BREAKERS

The matchball from the day George Best scored a joint-record six goals in one game.
The matchball from the day George Best scored a joint-record six goals in one game.

The trio of legends broke many records with some of them still standing to this day. Best, for example, is the second and most recent United player to score six goals in one game - in his case, it was an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Northampton Town in February 1970 that finished 8-2 to the Reds. The only other man to bag a double-hat-trick for our club was Harold Halse, in the 1911 Charity Shield when Swindon Town were thumped 8-4.

Law’s record of 46 United goals in all competitions in the 1963/64 season is one of his scoring benchmarks that still stands proud today; Ruud van Nistelrooy’s 44 in 2002/03 is the closest anyone has come to matching his feat since then. 
Denis has also bagged the most Reds hat-tricks with a whopping 18 (Jack Rowley comes next with 12), and he was the United player to reach 100 goals in the fewest games – he only needed 110 matches.

Charlton's 758 appearances and aforementioned 249 goals were two big club records that stood unbroken for many decades. Ryan Giggs finally broke Sir Bobby’s games record in Moscow in 2008, when he came on as a substitute in the Champions League final. It took even longer for his goalscoring mark to be surpassed, when Wayne Rooney netted his 250th, four years ago this week.

The full version of this article can be found in the February 2021 issue of Inside United, on sale from 19 January and available online from manutd.com/magazine.

Recommended: