Cartoon illustration showing George Best Copyright

George Best – the best player of his generation?

George Best was the most exciting player in British football during the sixties and seventies.

He was the best player in the Manchester United team that dominated the English game and won the European Cup in 1968. He was a winger with an eye for goal and could beat defenders for fun with his turn of speed and skilful ball control.

As talented as he was on the pitch, he was equally entertaining off it. Best lived a flamboyant lifestyle dating gorgeous women and partying hard. With his film star looks, George Best was the first real celebrity footballer.

“I think I’ve found you a genius!”

Cartoon illustration showing George Best Copyright battlersandbottlers.comBest was first spotted at the age of 15 when Bob Bishop, a scout with Manchester United, saw him playing in Belfast. He immediately reported back to Matt Busby at Old Trafford with a telegram reported to have said: “I think I’ve found you a genius!”

Best was signed up and made his United debut aged 17 in September 1963. He was used sparingly by Busby at first, but became a first team regular by the New Year and finished the season with six goals in 26 appearances as United finished runners-up to Liverpool in the league.

Best played a key role in the team the following season and United finished as league champions. He played in all but one league game and scored 10 goals.

“The fifth Beatle”

George Best
European glory
Where did it all go wrong?
Football’s Greatest Players

George Best was now a star in Britain and he announced himself on the European stage in the quarter finals of the European Cup. He scored a stunning double inside the first 15 minutes of the second leg of the quarter final against Portuguese side Benfica in a game United went on to win 5-1.

This led to the Portuguese media dubbing him “O Quinto Beatle” which translates into English as ‘the fifth Beatle’.

Best was such a showman and entertainer on the pitch and such a playboy off it, he was now one of the biggest celebrities in Britain. His lifestyle and charms led to plenty of female attention and he certainly would not have been out of place touring with the biggest pop band in the country.

Unfortunately, United were unable to progress any further in the European Cup that season, losing to Partizan Belgrade 2-1 on aggregate in the semi finals.

Winning back the league

Belfast City Airport was renamed George Best Belfast City Airport as a tribute to Best.

Best continued his rise in the game with 9 league goals in 31 appearances in the 1965/6 season. He went one better the following year by scoring ten goals to help United regain the league title in 1967.

George Best now had the world at his feet. He was a league title winner with Man Utd, a team with many great players such as Bobby Charlton and Denis Law. But it was Best that added the touch of magic to complete the team.
Best leads United to European glory – Read more

George Best
European glory
Where did it all go wrong?
Football’s Greatest Players