79 Facts About George Best

1.

George Best was a Northern Irish professional footballer who played as a winger, spending most of his club career at Manchester United.

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2.

George Best was named European Footballer of the Year in 1968 and came fifth in the FIFA Player of the Century vote.

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3.

George Best received plaudits for his playing style, which combined pace, skill, balance, feints, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to get past defenders.

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4.

George Best won two League titles and the European Cup with the club.

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5.

George Best was an inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

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6.

In international football, George Best was capped 37 times for Northern Ireland between 1964 and 1977.

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7.

George Best considered his international career as being "recreational football", with the expectations placed on a smaller nation in Northern Ireland being much less than with his club.

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8.

George Best is regarded as one of the greatest players never to have played at a World Cup.

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9.

George Best died in 2005, aged 59, due to complications from the immunosuppressive drugs he needed to take after a liver transplant in 2002.

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10.

George Best was the first child of Richard "Dickie" Best and Anne Withers .

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11.

George Best was born on 22 May 1946 and grew up in Cregagh, east Belfast.

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12.

George Best's father was a member of the Orange Order and as a boy George carried the strings of the banner in his local Cregagh lodge.

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13.

George Best had four sisters, Carol, Barbara, Julie and Grace, and one brother, Ian .

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14.

George Best's father died on 16 April 2008, at the age of 88, in the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, Northern Ireland.

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15.

In 1957, the academically gifted George Best passed the 11-plus and went to Grosvenor High School, but he soon played truant as the school specialised in rugby union.

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16.

George Best then moved to Lisnasharragh Secondary School, reuniting him with friends from primary school and allowing him to focus on football.

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17.

George Best was given a trial and signed up by United's chief scout Joe Armstrong.

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18.

George Best returned to Manchester and spent two years as an amateur, as English clubs were not allowed to take Northern Irish players on as apprentices.

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19.

George Best was given a job as an errand boy on the Manchester Ship Canal, allowing him to train with the club twice a week.

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20.

That same season, George Best captained the Manchester United side that won the 1964 FA Youth Cup, the sixth FA Youth Cup won under the management of Jimmy Murphy, and the first since the 1958 Munich air disaster.

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21.

George Best's stand out display allied with his dark Beatle mop-top hair, the Portuguese media dubbed him "O Quinto Beatle", and on the team's return to England, Best was photographed on the airport tarmac in his new sombrero with the headline, "El Beatle".

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22.

George Best had little faith in the United medical staff, and so he secretly saw Glentoran's physiotherapist, who readjusted his ligaments in a painful procedure.

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23.

Days after returning to England, as the First Division's joint top-scorer George Best was presented with the FWA Footballer of the Year award, becoming the youngest ever recipient of the award.

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24.

George Best won the Ballon d'Or in 1968 after receiving more votes than Bobby Charlton, Dragan Dzajic and Franz Beckenbauer.

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25.

George Best merely glides along, riding tackles and brushing giants aside like leaves.

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26.

George Best made a feint to go right which put Book on his backside, before he went left and walked the ball into the net.

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27.

In 2002 the British public voted George Best's record breaking performance No 26 in the list of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.

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28.

George Best began to get into trouble with his discipline: he was fined by the Football Association for receiving three bookings for misconduct, and he was suspended by United for two weeks after missing his train to Stamford Bridge so as to spend a weekend with actress Sinead Cusack.

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29.

Highlights for George Best included hat-tricks against West Ham United and Southampton, as well as a goal against Sheffield United that came after he beat four defenders in a mazy run.

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30.

George Best would be the subject for a second time in 2003 when Michael Aspel surprised him at Teddington Studios.

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31.

George Best then announced his retirement from football, but nevertheless turned up for pre-season training, and continued to play.

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32.

George Best failed to turn up for training three days later and was dropped by Docherty, though he claimed Docherty was deceitful with him.

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33.

George Best was arrested and charged with stealing a fur coat, passport, and cheque book from Marjorie Wallace, but was later cleared of all charges.

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34.

George Best played at United when shirt numbers were assigned to positions, and not the player.

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35.

When George Best played at right wing, as he famously did during the later stages of the 1966 and 1968 European Cups, he donned the number 7.

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36.

George Best was playing at inside left in 1972 when he famously walked out on United the first time but was back in the number 11 for the autumn of 1973 before leaving for good.

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37.

In total George Best made 470 appearances for Manchester United in all competitions from 1963 to 1974, and scored 179 goals.

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38.

In 1975, George Best played three matches for Stockport County in the Fourth Division.

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39.

George Best had a brief spell at Cork Celtic from December 1975 to January 1976.

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40.

George Best played only three league games, the others against Bohemians and Shelbourne, but despite attracting big crowds he failed to score or impress.

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41.

George Best played for three clubs in the United States: Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and later San Jose Earthquakes; he played for the Detroit Express on a European tour.

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42.

George Best was a success on the field, scoring 15 goals in 24 games in his first season with the Aztecs and named as the NASL's best midfielder in his second.

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43.

George Best caused a stir when he returned to the UK to play for the Scottish club Hibernian.

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44.

The club was suffering a decline in fortunes and was heading for relegation from the Premier Division, before George Best was signed on a "pay per play" basis after the club chairman, Tom Hart, received a tip-off from an Edinburgh Evening News reporter that he was available.

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45.

One infamous incident saw George Best initially sacked by Hibs after he went on a massive drinking session with the French rugby team, who were in Edinburgh to play Scotland.

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46.

George Best returned to the US to play for the San Jose Earthquakes in what was officially described as a "loan", though he only managed a handful of appearances for Hibs in the First Division in the following season.

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47.

George Best returned one last time to Easter Road in 1984, for Jackie McNamara's testimonial match against Newcastle United.

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48.

George Best played in a friendly for Newry Town against Shamrock Rovers in August 1983, before ending his professional career exactly 20 years after joining Manchester United with a brief four-match stint playing for the Brisbane Lions in the Australian National Soccer League during the 1983 season.

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49.

On 29 October 1984, George Best played as a special guest for Reading against the New Zealand national team in a friendly game, alongside 1966 World Cup winner Martin Peters.

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50.

George Best scored twice, one goal from outside the box, the other from the penalty spot.

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51.

George Best was capped 37 times for Northern Ireland, scoring nine goals.

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52.

Largely surrounded by teammates of lesser ability with Northern Ireland than with his club and lower expectations as a result, George Best considered his international career as being "recreational football".

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53.

George Best is regarded as one of the greatest players never to have played at a World Cup, and like his namesake, Liberia star George Weah, he was “hamstrung in World Cup terms by hailing from a global minnow”.

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54.

On 15 May 1971, George Best scored possibly the most famous "goal" of his career at Windsor Park in Belfast against England.

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55.

George Best continued to be selected for Northern Ireland throughout the 1970s, despite his fluctuating form and off pitch problems.

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56.

George Best was considered briefly by manager Billy Bingham for the 1982 World Cup, but at the age of 35, with his football skills dulled by age and drink, he was not selected for the Northern Ireland squad.

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57.

Highly skilful winger, considered by several pundits to be one of the greatest dribblers in the history of the sport, George Best received plaudits for his playing style, which combined pace, skill, balance, feints, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to get past defenders.

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58.

George Best could do almost anything – technically, speed, complete mastery of not only the ball but his own body.

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59.

George Best's brilliance was simply dazzling – player after player from the New Zealand national team queued up to try to tackle him and he gave them all dancing lessons.

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60.

George Best opened a nightclub called Slack Alice on Bootle Street in Manchester in 1973 and owned restaurants in the city including Oscars, on the site of the old Waldorf Hotel.

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61.

George Best owned fashion boutiques, in partnership with Manchester City player Mike Summerbee.

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62.

George Best married Angela MacDonald-Janes on 24 January 1978 at Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas, having met in the United States when George Best was playing for the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1976.

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63.

George Best married Alex Pursey in 1995 in Kensington and Chelsea, London.

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64.

George Best was successfully defended when the case reached court in January 1973 by barrister George Carman QC, a close drinking companion of Best, as acknowledged in his book, Scoring at Half Time.

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65.

At the peak of his career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, George Best advertised Cookstown sausages on television with the phrase "the George Best family sausages".

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66.

George Best had a cameo as himself in the 1971 British comedy film Percy.

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67.

Indie rock band The Wedding Present named their first album George Best, and featured Best on the cover wearing his red Manchester United kit.

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68.

When George Best played football, salaries were a fraction of what top players earn today, but, with his pop star image and celebrity status, George Best still earned a fortune.

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69.

In 2012, George Best was featured in the list of The New Elizabethans to mark the diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

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70.

George Best suffered from alcoholism for most of his adult life, leading to numerous controversies and, eventually, his death.

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71.

In 1981, while playing in the United States, George Best stole money from the handbag of a woman he did not know in order to fund a drinking session.

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72.

In 1984, George Best received a three-month prison sentence for drunk driving, assaulting a police officer and failing to answer bail.

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73.

George Best spent Christmas of 1984 behind bars at Ford Open Prison.

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74.

In September 1990, George Best appeared on the primetime BBC chat show Wogan in which he was heavily drunk and swore, at one point saying to the host, "Terry, I like screwing".

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75.

George Best was diagnosed with severe liver damage in March 2000.

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76.

On 2 February 2004, George Best was convicted of another drink-driving offence and banned from driving for 20 months.

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77.

George Best continued to drink, and was sometimes seen at his local pub in Surbiton, London.

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78.

George Best was flamboyant and exciting and able to inspire his teammates.

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79.

The first match at Old Trafford after George Best's death was a League Cup tie against West Bromwich Albion, the club against which he made his debut for Manchester United in 1963.

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