Born: Belfast 22 May 1946
Club(s): Manchester United, Jewish Guild, Stockport County, Cork Celtic, Los Angeles Aztecs, Fulham, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, Hibernian, San Jose Earthquakes, Bournemouth, Brisbane Lions, Tobermore United
Country: Northern Ireland
International Caps: 37
International Goals: 9
At a time when football was very much the working man’s game, enter the sports first ever rock and roll superstar made very much in a time of the swinging sixties. His name, George from Northern Ireland, a Belfast boy.
Nonetheless was George Best a great footballer, a talented and gifted winger with guile and style, the ability to beat a man and make his opponent look silly, Best was also a very attractive man who liked to party, famed for bedding a few Miss World’s and having a lifestyle similar to the musicians of that era, earning himself an obvious nickname in ‘the fifth beatle’.
After being spotted back home aged 15 by Manchester United he crossed the Irish Sea and made his Old Trafford debut aged 17 in 1963 against West Bromwich Albion. After scoring his first goal some months later he became a regular fixture in Manager Matt Busby’s side helping United to a second place league finish behind their rivals Liverpool.
In 1964/65 Best helped United to the league title scoring 14 goals in 59 games and a year later earned global appraisal scoring twice aged 19 in the European Cup Quarter Final against the great Benfica at the Stadium of Light.
In 1967 Best helped United win the league for a second time and a year later had his best ever season finishing as joint top goalscorer in the league (with 28 goals) and winning the European Cup with Manchester United as the red devils eventually overcame Benfica in extra time. Best scoring the important second goal during a 4-1 win.
Best, with Denis Law and Bobby Charlton formed an attacking trio of world class proportion but despite regularly scoring 20 goals plus for United from out wide the trophies never matched what his stunning ability deserved.
After falling out with United, and seemingly the game following the retirement of Matt Busby Best’s later years at Old Trafford would see him transfer listed after a decline in form and responsibilities.
By then his rock and roll lifestyle kicked in, and his career all to very short was over, often more likely to be seen in the bars and nightclubs of London rather than on the pitch.
Best eventually moved to America where he could continue to enjoy life whilst picking up a pay check from the game he made look easy, he played for LA Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers & San Jose Earthquakes between spells in England for Stockport, Fulham and Hibs.
Best who played 37 times for Northern Ireland sadly never got to show his talent on the world’s biggest stage. The greatest ever footballer never to play in the finals of the World Cup? Some say the greatest ever footballer bar none.
Best had ability, skill, swagger and was a likeable character in an age when footballers were starting to become style icons. Very much the original icon, Best was simply titled by quite an appropriate surname.