BEST, GEORGE 1963-74:
5ft 9" 10st 3lbs
b.Belfast, 22 May 1946
Debut v West Brom (h) 14/9/63
Creghagh Youth Club
staff Aug 61, pro May 63
Dunstable Town July 74
Stockport County Nov 75
Cork Celtic Jan 76
Los Angeles Aztecs Apr-Aug 76 + May-Aug 77 +
March 78 Fulham Sept 76
Fort Lauderdale Strikers June-Aug 78 +
Mar-july 79 Hibernian Nov 79
San Jose Earthquakes Apr-aug 80 + Mar-aug 81
Bournemouth Mar 83
Brisbane Lions (Australia) July 83
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George Best`s father was an amateur footballer
and his mother an Irish
international hockey player. When he arrived at OT in Aug 61, he was only
five feet tall and weighed 8 stones, and it seemed that he would be too
frail for proffesional football. In addition, the shy lad wanted to go
straight back home again to Ulster, but the ever astute Matt
became something of a father figure, lost no time in introducing him to
fellow-Irishman, Harry Gregg, which helped to ease any feelings of
home-sickness. Signed on amateur forms Aug 61,Best was found work as a
time clerk wiyh th Manchester Ship Canal Company, and played his first
in the A Team the following month. Almost exactly 2 years later, when still
only 17 years-old, he made his first appearance in League football against
West Brom. It was clear that here was a quit remarkable and precocious
Naturally fit and courageous, he
was blessed with exceptional
speed,balance,vision and dribbling skills, and was to mature into the
complete footballer, arguably as good as any before or since. After playing
in only 15 League games he won the first of his 37 caps for Northern
Ireland. He won a Championship Medal in his first full season of
64-5, and another in 66-7. Very much the with-it young man of his
with his Beatle-style hair, Chelsea boots and turned-back cuffs, Uniteds
bachelor-boy was an instantly recognisable figure either on or off
Despite his magnificent personal contribution of 28 goals from 41
in 67-8, he was to miss out on a third championship, as UNITED
in runners-up position. In the same season, however, all disappointments
were swept aside when the EUROPEAN CUP was won at Wembley.
Best`s brilliant individual goal in the first period of extra time
on their way to an emotional 4-1 victory over
Benfica, finally realising
Matt Busby`s European ambitions after almost twelve years of single-minded
dedication. George Best was rewarded with
THE FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR`s award,
EUROPEAN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
In a playing career littered with virtuoso performances, one of the
most memorable was his feat of
scoring six goals against Northampton in UNITED`s
8-2 victory at the
County Ground in the fifth round of the FA Cup in Feb 70.
It was his first game for four weeks, following suspension.
Sadly, the early 70`s saw George unable to handle constant pressures of
super stardom and, once Sir Matt retired, a rift developed between club
player, his racy lifestyle and other off field problems having finally
robbed him of match fitness and with it the genius which had thrilled a
generation of fans and left behind many memories. His career post-UNITED
largely an anti climax although at Fulham, where he more than doubled the
gate on his debut, Cottager`s fans witnessed his Indian Summer with
appreciation. Before he left Craven Cottage, following a disagreement about
terms, he had taken his career total of League matches to over 400, and
goals to 147.
FL 361 - 137 g
FAC 46 - 21 g
FLC 25 - 9 g
EUR 34 - 11 g
Total: 466 apps 178 goals
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