Best was born in Belfast on 22nd May 1946. He grew up on the
Cregagh estate and played football for both Cregagh Boys Club
and Lisnasharragh Intermediate School.
He was spotted by Bob Bishop, one of United's
top scouts and joined Manchester United's ground staff in August
1961. Despite a spell of homesickness he signed as an amateur
and joined the Manchester Ship Canal Company as a clerk. He
turned professional on his 17th birthday in May 1963.
His debut in the league was against West Bromwich
Albion on 14th September 1963 and he scored his first goal in
only his second appearance in a 5-1 victory over Burnley on
28th December 1963. He won his first Northern Ireland cap in
a 3-2 victory over Wales, after only 15 League matches.
He won a F.A. Youth Cup winners' plaque in 1964,
scoring one of United's goals in their 5-2 aggregate victory
over Swindon Town. In 1965 he won a Championship medal adding
a second in 1967. Best gave United an extra-time lead in the
European Champions Cup Final in 1968, United eventually defeating
He already had a reputation to Benfica having
been responsible for their first ever home defeat in European
competition back in 1965 at the quarter-final stage of the European
George Best made 361 League appearances for
Manchester United scoring 136 goals. He also holds the record
for the most goals by a United player in a single match (not
including wartime), six versus Northampton Town, F.A. Cup fifth
round on 8th February 1970. United won the match 8-2. He won
a total of 37 Northern Ireland caps, 32 of which whilst at United.
In November 1972 he received IRA death threats
with the 'troubles' in Northern Ireland and this forced him
to withdraw from a Northern Ireland versus Spain match
Together with Mike Summerbee of Manchester City,
George Best opened a number of fashion boutiques in Manchester
in 1966 and 1967. He also opened a travel agency and a couple
of nightclubs, Slack Alice's and Oscar's. Unfortunately Best's
talents were more notable on the pitch as the businesses had
Tensions came to light during the 1970's between
Old Trafford and best and the pressures of superstardom took
their toll. During the late 1960's Best had been receiving 10,000
fan-mail letters every week, and employed 3 full-time staff
to answer the letters.
In 1972 he announced his retirement and ran
off to Marbella, Spain, deserting United and latter day Beckham's
move was almost a parody.
Best returned to Manchester United in September
1973 but finally broke both Tommy Docherty's and Manchester
United's patience when he failed to turn up for training in
January 1974. His final League match for United had been in
a disappointing 0-3 defeat against Queens Park Rangers on New
Year's Day 1974.
Since leaving Old Trafford his clubs have been
almost too numerous to mention but have included amongst others,
Dunstable Town (1974), Stockport County (1975), Cork Celtic
(1975), Fulham (1976-77), Hibernian (1979-80), Bournemouth (1983)
and Brisbane Lions of Australia (1983).
He has also played in the short lived North
American Soccer League for L.A. Aztecs (1976-78), Fort Lauderdale
Strikers (1978-79) and San Jose Earthquakes (1980-81). He has
also made numerous guest appearances for teams in friendly,
charity and testimonial matches.
On 3rd October 1981, George Best was called
up to play for Northern Ireland against Scotland at the age
of 35. George Best, at his peak, was probably the most natural
and greatest talent the British Isles have ever produced.
He had speed, balance, vision, superb close
control and the ability to create chances and score from seemingly
impossible situations. The Brazilian legend, Pele, remarked
that George Best was 'The best player in the world'.
Since retiring from playing Best has continued
to attract headlines about his private life. He has also had
to fight the demons that haunt him and have nearly cost him
his life and he has overcome alcoholism and slipped back, but
he has still retained the legendary status and respect as one
of the most influential players to come out of Manchester United.