In association football, the United Trinity or the Holy Trinity refers to the Manchester United trio of George Best, Denis Law, and Sir Bobby Charlton, who helped United become the first ever English club team to win the European Cup in 1968.
Charlton was a member of the Busby Babes, a group of talented young players brought through the club's academy by the eponymous manager Matt Busby and his assistant Jimmy Murphy, as well as club scout Joe Armstrong, who discovered Charlton in 1953, and Best in 1961, amongst others. Law arrived at the club from Italian team Torino for a club record £115,000 in 1962, having previously played for Huddersfield Town and rivals Manchester City.
Charlton made his debut on 6 October 1956, scoring twice in a 4–2 win against Charlton Athletic. Law made his debut on 18 August 1962, scoring in a 2–2 with West Bromwich Albion. Although Best made debut against West Bromwich Albion on 14 September 1963, it wouldn't be until the reverse fixture on 18 January 1964 when all three would feature in the same starting line-up; a 4–1 victory in which all three scored, with Law scoring two of them.
Throughout the 1960s all three would be voted as the winner of the Ballon d'Or, the trophy awarded to the world's best player. Law won in 1964, Charlton in 1966, and Best in 1968. Since then, only Cristiano Ronaldo has won the award whilst playing for United, winning in 2008. Combined, the players scored 665 goals in 1633 games. Manager Bill Shankly regaled how he once psychologically built up his Liverpool team ahead of a game against United; "I took the models of Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best off the model pitch and put them in my left-hand pocket. Then I told our players: 'Don't worry about them, they can't play at all.' It was psychology, of course. Charlton, Best and Law were three of the best players in the world".
Best died on 25 November 2005, with Law and Charlton amongst the last to visit him in hospital. A year later, it was announced that a statue of the trio would be erected outside Old Trafford, which was eventually unveiled in 2008.
In subsequent years, various triumvirates have been dubbed the new trinity, including Ryan Giggs–Paul Scholes–Gary Neville, who played together between 1992 and 2011, Cristiano Ronaldo–Wayne Rooney–Carlos Tevez, who played together at United between 2007 and 2009, and Wayne Rooney–Robin van Persie–Juan Mata, who have played together since Mata signed for United in January 2014 until Van Persie's departure in July 2015.
- "Bobby Charlton". Stretford End – The Official Statistics Website of Manchester United. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "Denis Law". Stretford End – The Official Statistics Website of Manchester United. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "George Best". Stretford End – The Official Statistics Website of Manchester United. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Ashby, Ben (12 September 2013). "Secrecy and delight: George Best's first-team debut". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Oscroft, Tim (17 January 2014). "The Trinity: 50 years on". Manchester United F.C. Official Website. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Norrish, Mike (2 December 2008). "Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo wins Ballon d'Or and says best is yet to come". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "Man Utd 'Holy Trinity' honoured with Old Trafford statue". The Telegraph. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Winter, Henry (5 March 2005). "Shankly the shrewd managerial innovator who loved a wind-up". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Bartram, Steve (17 January 2014). "The Trinity: The legacy". Manchester United F.C. Official Website. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Herbert, Ian (25 November 2005). "The end of the road: George Best 'enters his final hours'". The Independent. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "Man Utd to honour legendary trio". BBC. 20 November 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "Man Utd 'trinity' statue unveiled". BBC. 29 May 2008. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Rich, Tim (18 April 2010). "New Holy Trinity have Ferguson dancing a jig". The Independent. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Winter, Henry (22 May 2008). "Reds reign in Moscow". Irish Independent. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- Stone, Simon (29 January 2014). "Juan Mata can't wait to form winning trinity with Rooney and RVP". Irish Independent. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
- "Fenerbahce say Robin van Persie joined from Man United for £3.84m". ESPN FC. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2015.