George Best was born in East Belfast on 22nd May 1946. From a young age his parents recognised George's love for football. His mother said: 'with George it was always the ball!'
At 11 years of age he won a scholarship to the local grammar school Grosvenor High where, unfortunately for George, rugby was the only sport on the curriculum. George hated not being able to play football and so began to skip school so that he could play. He was caught out, with the result that both his parents and the school decided that George would be better off going to Lisnasharragh Secondary, where he could play football.
George very quickly made his mark, and realised it quite quickly too. He was discovered by Bob Bishop when he was just 15 and was signed up Joe Armstrong in 1961, making his debut for Manchester United in 1963. When he started out he was very homesick for his hometown of Belfast and so after playing his first match went back for Christmas. The club rang him up asking him to play against Burnley who had beaten them on Boxing Day. George, having only played one professional game at this point agreed to come back but only if they would fly him back to Belfast straight after the game. The club agreed and didn't regret it as he scored his first goal and United overturned their previous defeat.
George Best is regarded by many as the best footballers to have ever lived, and is best remembered for his time with Manchester United FC. He played for them from 1963 until 1974, and helped them to win the Football League Championship in 1965 and 1967, as well as the European Cup in 1968. Also in 1968 as a testament to his astounding footballing abilities he was named the European Footballer of the Year as well as the Football Writers' Association Player of the Year. People often state: 'Maradona good, Pel?etter, George Best' and he really did make an impact during his time with Manchester United, who he played 466 games for, scoring 178 goals ? 6 of which were in the one game against Northampton Town.
Best's time with Manchester United, coupled with his huge talent, showmanship and good looks (he was dubbed 'the fifth Beatle') made him a huge celebrity. However this celebrity led to his downfall as he developed gambling, womanising and alcohol problems.
Unfortunately after 11 years with the Club, United sacked Best due to his excessive drinking and his failure to attend both training and matches. George was only 27 and he ended up drifting between clubs including Fulham, Dunstable Town, Hibernian, Los Angeles Aztecs, Stockport County and Bournemouth until he retired in 1983 at the age of 37.
In 2002, he had a liver transplant, but caused widespread criticism when he was seen to be drinking again. Unfortunately he died in 2005 at the age of 59 due to the side-effects of the drugs he had to use to prevent his body from rejecting his transplanted liver. The FA Premier League announced that a minute's silence would be observed before all Premiership games to be held over the weekend of his death. He may have led a controversial life but he was a brilliant and extremely respected football player, who once said: 'Pel?alled me the greatest footballer in the world. That is the ultimate salute to my life.'