Footballing legend Denis Law was back in his home city for a double celebration – as well as restocking his cupboards with butteries and pies!
The Aberdeen-born star officially opened the Cruyff Court on Catherine Street before heading across the city to pick up an honorary degree at Robert Gordon University.
He joked: “It’s nice being back home. Don’t forget I’ll be going back with some rolls, pies and black pudding loaded into the back of the car without a doubt.
“They don’t do anything like that down in England.”
Hailed as the first of its kind in Scotland, the Cruyff Court in the city centre has been created in partnership with the Cruyff Foundation and Postcode Lottery and aims to provide access to a wide range of sport and events, including freestyle football, street hockey, dance and art.
The concept was devised by Dutch footballing legend Johan Cruyff and it was designed with the help of Communication Design and Architecture students at RGU.
The former Manchester United star said: “It really is lovely to be associated with such a great player as Johan Cruyff.
“When we were young you played in the street.
“There were no cars in the road so we were able to play but a lamppost was one of the goalposts and a jacket was the other, that was if you had a jacket.
“Not many people had a jacket in those days.
“Now there are fantastic facilities for kids and hopefully in a few years time we’ll get one of them playing for Aberdeen, and maybe at the same time or a little bit after playing for Scotland.
“For this area to breed some really good players, this is ideal.”
The Denis Law Legacy Trust was established in his honour to empower young people to be confident, capable and responsible citizens in their own communities.
He stays true to his North-east roots, supporting and endorsing Streetsport, an initiative run by The Denis Law Legacy Trust and RGU in partnership with Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, aiming to reduce instances of youth crime and antisocial behaviour.
Denis received his honorary degree of doctor of laws at the university in recognition of his achievements throughout his football career and his work with the trust.
He said: “It’s nice, the people who give these awards must have good memories because it’s quite a long time ago since I was playing. It’s lovely to come back to my home city.
“The fact is the children are able to play in areas like this, that’s the good thing obviously, rather than the streets. For kids who really want to play sport whatever it is, but hopefully football, this will be great for them.”
Denis will be returning to the Granite City later this year, when he will be bestowed with the freedom of the city.
He said: “I’m not sure what it will mean. I’m hoping it’s a bus ride down Union Street. I’m doing that a bit later in the year. It would be nice to not pay the bus fare.”
Principal and vice-chancellor of RGU Professor von Prondzynski said: “Denis Law has been an inspiration throughout his distinguished football career and he continues to achieve tremendous results through his work with The Denis Law Legacy Trust.
“He has maintained close links with the North-east and the university is immensely proud of the success of the Streetsport initiative, which was founded with The Denis Law Legacy Trust on our shared belief in investing in young people and helping them harness their energy to reach their full potential.”