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George Best

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Portrait of George Best
Best with Northern Ireland in 1976
Birth1946
Death2005
CountryIreland
OccupationAthlete
George Best was a Northern Irish professional footballer who played as a winger, spending most of his career at Manchester United. He is universally regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. A highly skilful winger, considered by several pundits to be one of the greatest dribblers in the history of the sport, Best received plaudits for his playing style, which combined pace, skill, balance, feints, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to get past defenders. He was once quoted as saying, "Pelé called me the greatest footballer in the world. That is the ultimate salute to my life."

Born and brought up in Belfast, Best began his club career in England with Manchester United, with the scout who had spotted his talent at the age of 15 sending a telegram to manager Matt Busby which read: "I think I've found you a genius." After making his debut aged 17, he scored 179 goals from 470 appearances over 11 years, and was the club's top goalscorer in the league for five consecutive seasons. In 1968, he scored 32 goals in 53 games as Manchester United won their first European Cup. That year Best won the Ballon d'Or and FWA Footballer of the Year. In international football, he was capped 37 times and scored nine goals between 1964 and 1977, although a combination of the team's performance and his lack of fitness in 1982 meant that he never played in the finals of a European Championship or World Cup. The Irish Football Association described him as the "greatest player to ever pull on the green shirt of Northern Ireland". Best unexpectedly quit United in 1974 at age 27, but returned to football for a number of both professional and amateur clubs around the world in short spells. At the age of 37, he retired from playing in 1984.

With his good looks and playboy lifestyle, Best became one of the first media celebrity footballers, earning the nickname "Fifth Beatle" in 1966, but his extravagant life style led to various personal problems, most notably alcoholism, which he suffered from for the rest of his life. These issues affected him on and off the field, often causing controversy. Although conscious of his problems, he was publicly not contrite about them; he said of his career: "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars - the rest I just squandered". After football, he spent some time as a football analyst, but his financial and health problems continued into his retirement. He died in 2005, age 59, due to complications from the immunosuppressive drugs he needed to take after a liver transplant in 2002. He continued drinking after the transplant. Best was married twice, to two former models, Angie Best and then Alex Best. His son Calum Best was born in 1981 from his first marriage.

Best was voted 8th in the World Soccer 100 greatest football players of the 20th century election in 1999 and was voted 16th in the IFFHS World Player of the Century election in 1999. He was on the six-man short list for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Century in 1999. Best was one of the inaugural 22 inductees into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2004, he was voted 19th in the public UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll and was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players. On what would have been his 60th birthday, Belfast City Airport was renamed the George Best Belfast City Airport. According to the BBC, Best was remembered by mourners at his public funeral held in Belfast as "the beautiful boy" "beautiful game". (Source: Wikipedia) - 22 views

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