Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

George Best

George Best has died.

You would have heard of George Best, even if only through the frequent bulletins and near-obituaries written about him as he moved inexorably towards his death.

To generations George Best was the man who was always at parties, always with a pretty girl, preferably a model, on his arm, always with a drink, and then another and another.

He was the man who controversially had a life-saving operation and swore he would never touch another drink, than outraged a lot of people by quickly breaking that vow.

And yet….

George Best was a genius. He was probably the greatest footballer ever produced in the British Isles, and he just might have been the greatest ever, from anywhere.

In his heyday, he played for Manchester United, and achieved the rather unusual feat of being loved and admired by not just fans of that super-successful club, but by lovers of football everywhere.

He played alongside other stars such as Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and Paddy Crerand, and stood out in that illustrious company.

George could beat anybody at will. His skills on the wing eclipsed Stanley Matthews, who was in the twilight of his long footballing career when George appeared.

And he could score goals as well. He once scored all six in a Cup tie.

Once, after a particularly outrageous run when he beat everybody in sight, including the goalkeeper, before casually tapping the ball into the net, he said that he had actually wanted to kneel on the touchline and head the ball in, but was afraid it would give the manager (the one and only Matt Busby) a heart attack.

The shocking thing was that, after he had become a star of the media as well as the football field, he could not be relied upon to show discipline in a match, or even to turn up.

His career went into a downward spiral, and instead of Manchester United, he found himself playing for Stockport County, Cork Celtic, Dunstable Town, Los Angeles Aztecs, Fulham, Fort Lauderdale, Hibernian, San Jose Earthquakes, Bournemouth and Brisbane Lions.

With all due respect to those teams, George should have been playing at a much higher level. It was a shocking waste.

But people who really loved football remembered what he had been.

Pele, the Brazilian player regarded by most as the world’s greatest, once said that his own favourite footballer was George Best. Could you have greater praise?

George Best died on 25th November. He was 59 years old.