This weekend the Freedom of the City will be bestowed upon Denis Law – the latest in a distinguished list of honours to be awarded to a man who has demonstrated star quality on and off the pitch throughout his life.
It is the highest honour we have as a Council and it remains rare. The last conferral was for Scotland the What in 2008, so these occasions do not come around often.
It will be a privilege to be in attendance at today’s conferral ceremony, when proud traditions dating back centuries will be upheld, and Sunday’s parade down Union Street promises to provide a reception worthy of the new Freeman. Aberdonians and visitors alike will be able to cheer Denis as he passes, with the procession starting from the top of the street at 5.30pm and expected to arrive at the Town House at 6.15pm.
Denis Law is a special figure not only for Aberdeen – a national treasure and somebody who is an idol to football fans throughout Britain, Europe and beyond.
The story of Denis would not have looked out of place in the pages of Roy of the Rovers. A local boy who made the very best of the natural talent he had and combined that flair and ability with the great characteristics of steely determination and hard work.
He set off from Aberdeen as a teenager not knowing what lay ahead and grabbed his big opportunity with both hands. The incredible success that followed put the Law name up in lights – bringing an enormous sense of pride to his home city.
Denis has always been revered as one of the Granite City’s heroes and this weekend promises to be a wonderful celebration of that special relationship.
The achievements of Denis on the pitch are unparalleled for a Scot – but his accomplishments off the park are also deserving of great praise.
He has served charities nationally, but in Aberdeen we are particularly aware of the impact Denis has made and continues to make. Through the Denis Law Legacy Trust, and its Streetsport initiative, the lives of young people are being enhanced and communities throughout the city are benefiting day in and day out.
The innovative Cruyff Court Denis Law, developed with the Council and partners, is the most obvious physical sign in Aberdeen but the reach is far wider. The drive to remove No Ball Games signs is another example of the change that Denis has helped shape to outlooks and attitudes – and there will no doubt be many more to follow.
This weekend is a fantastic opportunity to mark the achievements of a remarkable man who put Aberdeen on the sporting map.
Cllr Jenny Laing