Georgie Best was born on May 22nd 1946 with a football at his feet!
At the teen age of 15 George Best was discovered by scout Bob Bishop in Belfast and was brought over to Manchester United’s Old Trafford ground for a trail, but it turned out that he didn’t like it too much, feeling homesick he caught the boat back to Belfast without telling anyone.
Luckily father figure Matt Busby, United’s manager knew that George was a diamond in the rough and eventually got him back to Old Trafford.
Making his debut in a United shirt in 1963 at the age of 17 he looked too skinny and fragile for the Football League like a puff of wind would knock him over, but nobody on the opposite side West Bromwich Albion could get near him that day.
Playing on the wing alongside the likes of Denis Law and Bobby Charlton this was the start of a new era at United after the tragic air crash at Munich in 1958 that claimed the lives of so many of the Busby Babes. If the club had sold one of these players in the 60’s the crowd would have torn the ground down, that’s how high in esteem these players were held.
The day United went to play Benfica in the European Cup quarter final in 1966 in Lisbon was when Best’s star exploded. After scoring two goals and playing out of his socks he was dubbed with the name’ El Beatle ‘ by the media because of his great natural talent, good~looks and Beatle hair cut, but this boy was more than a pretty face, he could play a bit as well! Following that night the woman, bright lights and media were never far behind the Belfast boy with the cheeky smile! On the field he was all business, off the field unlike David Beckham he was another story and always made the headlines, drinking just like his mother before him began to take its toll in later life but he left us some fine moments to remember!
Two occasions stand out for me watching him play~ firstly against Chelsea at Old Trafford with Peter Bonetti in-goal for Chelsea. The keeper threw the ball out to full back Eddie McCreadie who couldn’t quite control it properly and George whips in and with superb balance lobs it over McCreadie’s head and runs round the side of him, collecting the ball and neatly lobbing it over Bonetti’s head and into the back of the net.
The second occasion was against poor old Northampton Town at their small ground in the FA Cup. George had been banned for six games and this is his comeback game and he scores six goals in that cup game, you had to feel sorry for the Northampton keeper but George was in blistering form that day. He graciously received the match ball signed by the Northampton team.
Poetry in Motion.
In 1974 at the ripe old age of 27, Best quit United for the last time, his final game being on 1st January 1974 against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.
As one of the first celebrity footballers , George Best led a rather wild lifestyle, unfortunately this led to progressively serious problems with alcoholism which finally led to his death in November 2005 at the age of 59.
We all still miss him!