Triumvirates made of great players have been celebrated throughout the history of football. Manchester United’s “Holy Trinity” made of Law, Charlton and Best is still among football’s greatest trios. All three of them were legitimate superstars in the 60’s, as evident by their Ballon d’Or victories. In this article, we will take a walk down the memory lane and enjoy the brilliance of three supremely talented individuals.
#3 The Busby Babes
Before we dig deep into Manchester United’s holy trinity, it is important to understand United’s history before them. Anybody associated with the Red Devils will know about Busby Babes, named after their legendary manager Matt Busby. United appointed Matt Busby in charge of Manchester United after the end of second world war in 1945. From 1946 to 1951, United fought well for the title but fell just short of the honor on four occasions.
1951 signaled the arrival of a new era for Manchester United, courtesy of academy graduates dubbed “Busby Babes”. United won the first division title in 1952 and the Bobby Charlton made his United senior team debut four years later. United won consecutive first division titles in 1956 and 1957 with a very young squad. In the 1957-58 season, United were considered prime contenders for a continental treble.
However, tragedy struck in February 1958 as a flight carrying United’s squad crashed in Munich. Many important players died while a few were forced to end their careers due to injury. Matt Busby almost died twice during his recovery but somehow came out of the episode alive.
#2 Rebuilding with Charlton
Charlton was among the lucky few who survived the crash without any long-term injury. He was just 20 at the time and recovered well enough to finish off the rest of the campaign. The 1958/59 season was his big breakthrough as he scored 29 goals in the first division. Although Charlton grabbed eyeballs with his skills and goal-scoring form, United did not win any major trophy for five seasons starting from 1957.
During this lean phase, George Best, the youngest of the holy trinity rose to prominence. He created a lot of hype with his performances for United’s reserves. “I have found you a genius” was United scout Bob Bishop’s reaction when he first spotted Best in Belfast. Best made his debut for United as a 17 year old in the beginning of 1963/64 season. One year before, United had broken the bank to sign Denis Law from Torino.
Law justified his huge price tag upon his arrival, scoring 29 goals in all competitions in 1962/63. But United just about avoided relegation and the pressure was firmly on Busby’s shoulders to find a solution.
#1 Conquering Europe
On 18 January 1964, Manchester United’s holy trinity took to the pitch for the first time together against Bolton Wanderers. They impressed immediately as all of them got on the scoresheet. For the next 10 seasons, the trio terrorized defenses across Europe. Law was the penalty box predator, Charlton was the experienced playmaker while Best did things that can barely be described by words.
With the trinity in supreme form, United won the first division title in 1965. They won the league for the seventh time in 1967 but the ultimate prize came in 1968 in the form of European Cup. In 1967/68, George Best played some of the best football England has ever seen and was United’s top scorer across competitions. United’s golden era ended with Matt Busby announcing his departure in 1969.
Law and Charlton left the club in 1973 while Best departed a year later. In May 2008, United unveiled a statue of the holy trinity outside Old Trafford, with a view to honor their contributions for the club.