A short history and selection of videos (courtesy of YouTube) to honour the great man who will forever be a Manchester United legend. George Best sadly passed away five years ago today, but fans still sing his name to this very day.
George Best made his debut for Manchester United at the tender age of just 17. He went on to make 470 appearances for the club, scoring 179 goals.
“The Fifth Beatle” played either as a winger or attacking midfielder, but, unfortunately, it is the Northern Ireland legends’ well documented off-field antics that ruined the career of a talent that may never be seen in English football ever again.
Best has been described as one of the first “celebrity footballers”, but it his is skill on the pitch which Best should be remembered for. His game combined pace, acceleration, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to beat defenders at ease.
Best was named European Footballer of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year in 1968, whilst also winning the European Cup with United. Best was top scorer for United in six consecutive seasons, helping the side who he joined at the age of fifteen to two First Division titles (1965 and 1967).
Best began to struggle with various problems and in 1974 “Georgie” moved on loan to South African club Jewish Guild, which sparked a frenzy of moves to eighteen different clubs in the space of ten years, including Fulham, Hibernian and San Jose Earthquakes.
Best retired from football twenty years to the day that he joined Manchester United. His testimonial was held in Belfast on August 8th, 1988. Best scored twice with Sir Matt Busby among the crowd. Best is still, and always will be, loved by Northern Ireland fans; there is a famous local saying of “Maradona good; Pelé better; George Best.”
After football, Best became a Sky Sports pundit for Soccer Saturday, which he appeared on between 1998 and 2004. By 2004, though, Best’s alcoholism had really started to take a hold of his life, with Best given a drunk driving offence and was banned from driving for twenty months. Best had been diagnosed with severe liver damage in March 2000.
On 3 October 2005 Best was admitted to intensive care at the private Cromwell Hospital in London, suffering from a kidney infection caused by the side effects of immuno-suppressive drugs used to prevent his body from rejecting his transplanted liver. On 27 October, newspapers stated that Best was close to death and had sent a farewell message to his loved ones. Best’s condition improved at first, but deteriorated again in November. On 20 November the British tabloid News of the World published a picture of Best at his own request, showing him in his hospital bed, along with what was reported to be his final message: “Don’t die like me”.
Best died at 13:06 GMT on 25th November 2005, aged 59, with multiple organ failure and a lung infection. The tributes soon began to pour in, with fans leaving heartfelt messages and flowers outside Old Trafford.
“He was able to use either foot – sometimes he seemed to have six.”
Sir Matt Busby on Best.