In this George Best biography, we get to know everything about the legendary Manchester United player, who is one of the most iconic footballers of all time.
George Best was a professional footballer who is considered one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. He is mostly famous for his time at Manchester United in the 1960s and early 1970s. Best who was famous for his incredible dribbling ability along with Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, formed the Holy Trinity of Manchester United and led the club to their first European Cup trophy.
With his impeccable style, pop star looks, and mesmerizing playing style, George Best became one of the first media celebrity footballers and a prime target for the British tabloids. However, his extravagant lifestyle, filled with late-night partying and alcoholism, slowly took over his life and football career.
Numerous alcoholism problems took a large toll on his health, and he passed away on November 25, 2005, at the age of 59. Despite his rapid decline and off-filed problems, George Best’s impact on the game remains significant, and he is still remembered as one of football’s great icons.
In George Best biography, we talk about every aspect of his life, including his childhood, early life, family, career, and personal life.
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Everything to Know About George Best
In this part of George Best biography, you can find some general information about him listed here.
George Best Information
- George Best real name: George Best
- Nickname: Bestie, El Beatle, The Fifth Beatle, Belfast Boy, and Geordie
- Profession: Former Footballer
George Best Physical Stats
- Height: 175 cm (5 ft 9 in)
- Eye Color: Blue
- Hair Color: Black
- Weight: 69 kg
Date of Birth and Personal Info
- Date of Birth: 22 May 1946
- Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland
- Nationality: Irish
George Best Football Information
- Position: Forward
- Professional Debut: 14 September 1963
- Jersey Number: 7
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George Best was born on 22 May 1946 and grew up in Cregagh, east Belfast. George Best parents were Richard “Dickie” Best and Anne Withers. He was the first child of his parents. Best had four sisters, Carol, Barbara, Julie and Grace, and one brother, Ian.
Best was a gifted student and passed the eleven-plus examination. He went to Grosvenor High School, but he soon played truant as the school specialized in rugby union. After moving to Lisnasharragh Secondary School, Best decided to focus on football. He played for Cregagh Boys Club. He grew up supporting Glentoran and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Best’s father died on 16 April 2008, at the age of 88, in the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, Northern Ireland. His mother Anne died from alcoholism-related cardiovascular disease in 1978, at the age of 55.
George Best’s family were religious. His father was a member of the Orange Order, and he was brought up in the Free Presbyterian faith. Best was a shy teenager who passed his free time in snooker halls, but he later became famous for his good looks and extravagant celebrity lifestyle.
In 2005, George Best died at age 59. He suffered from alcoholism and died due to complications from the immunosuppressive drugs he needed to take after a liver transplant in 2002.
George Best Profile
In this section of George Best biography, we take a look at his career as a footballer and the different teams he has played for throughout his career.
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George Best Football Career
We have to start George Best biography by explaining how his professional career began.
Manchester United scout Bob Bishop discovered Best in Belfast. The club’s chief scout gave him a trial, and he eventually joined them at the age of 15. He spent two years as an amateur and worked as an errand boy on the Manchester Ship Canal. Best was only allowed to train with Manchester United twice a week.
On 14 September 1963, Best made his First Division debut against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford. He scored his first goal for Manchester United in his second appearance in December. In the 1963-1964 season, Best became the youngest-ever player in a FA Cup Final and also captained the side that won the 1964 FA Youth Cup.
In his first full season as a first-team regular, Best contributed 14 goals and won the league title in the 1964-1965 season. At the age of 19, George Best scored two goals in a European Cup quarter-final match against Benfica in 1966. His performance in this match made him a superstar and Portuguese media dubbed him “O Quinto Beatle” (“the fifth Beatle”).
European Cup and Ballon d’Or
In the 1966-1967 season, Best scored 10 goals as Manchester United won another league title. The next season, United failed to win the league, but they instead won their first European Cup. They beat Real Madrid in the semi-final to win the aggregate tie 4–3 as Best scored the only goal of the home fixture. Just ten years after the Munich air disaster, Manchester United beat Benfica 4-1 at Wembley as Best scored the first goal. After a memorable season, George Best won the Ballon d’Or in 1968 at the age of just 22.
In the 1968-1969 season, Best scored 22 goals, but Manchester United finished in 11th place in the league and lost to AC Milan in the semi-final of the European Cup. Next season, Best scored 23 goals, but United finished in the eighth-place. George Best famously scored six goals against Northampton Town in the FA Cup. The 1970–71 season also ended without a trophy, despite the return of Matt Busby.
Best scored 27 goals in the 1971-1972 season as Man United finished in the eighth-place under Frank O’Farrell. During the season, Best got into trouble with his discipline and failed to turn up for training after spending time with multiple women.
Decline and personal problems
Before the 1972-1973 season, Best announced his retirement from football but turned up for pre-season training. Best was suspended, and transfer-listed by the club after he went missing in December. He announced his retirement for a second time but later resumed training.
In January 1974, Best was arrested and charged with stealing a fur coat, passport, and checkbook from Marjorie Wallace, but was later cleared of all charges. On 1 January 1974, Best played his last competitive game for Manchester United against Queens Park Rangers. At the end of the season, United was relegated to the Second Division.
After leaving Manchester United, George Best suffered a rapid decline. Best had a short stint at Jewish Guild in South Africa, Stockport County, and Cork Celtic. He only played in six matches for them and scored two goals.
In 1976, he joined Los Angeles Aztecs in the United States. He scored 15 goals in 24 matches and later moved to Fulham in the Second Division in England. He had a brief resurgence in form at Fulham and scored 10 goals in 47 matches.
In 1977, he returned to Los Angeles Aztecs and after two seasons joined Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Best returned to the United Kingdom to play for the Scottish club Hibernian in 1979. He signed a “pay per play” basis contract. The club was relegated from the Premier Division but Best presence helped them to sell more tickets.
George Best returned to the US to play for the San Jose Earthquakes in 1980. He failed to impress due to his off-field problems but still managed to score 21 goals in 56 matches. He played as a guest player in three matches for two Hong Kong First Division teams (Sea Bee and Rangers) in 1982.
In late 1982, the Third Division side AFC Bournemouth signed the 36-year-old Best.
Fulham. He also had a brief four-match stint playing for the Brisbane Lions in the Australian National Soccer League in 1983.
In 1983, George Best retired from football at the age of 37. He ended his professional career exactly 20 years after joining Manchester United.
On 8 August 1988, a testimonial match was held for George Best at Windsor Park. People like Osvaldo Ardiles, Johan Neeskens, Pat Jennings, and Liam Brady played in this match. Best scored twice. His former managers at Manchester United Sir Matt Busby and Jimmy Murphy, and Bob Bishop, the scout who discovered Best were among the crowd.
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In this section of George Best biography, we discuss his career at the international level.
George Best made his debut for Northern Ireland’s senior national team in 1964. He only managed to score 9 goals in 37 matches for his country. Best famously scored four goals against Cyprus.
He is arguably the best player in Northern Ireland’s history but could not achieve any significant success with his country and never played at the World Cup. In an interview, Best described his international career as being “recreational football”.
George Best last time played for his country in 1977. Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham considered inviting him to the squad for the 1982 World Cup at the age of 35, but he was not fit enough due to his age and drinking problem and in the end, was not selected for the Northern Ireland squad.
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Style of Play
In this part of George Best biography, we discuss his playing style as a player.
George Best was famous for his skill, creativity, and flair. His close ball control and ability to beat defenders made him one of the best player players in history. Manchester United legend had a great vision and passing ability, however, he was also capable of scoring goals himself with his powerful and accurate shooting. His footballing intelligence allowed him to beat opponents’ players.
George Best is considered one of the greatest dribblers in the history of the sport. Best had a unique ability to stay on his feet, even when confronted with aggressive challenges. His low center of gravity further enhanced his ability to change direction quickly. His balance, agility, and speed made him a defender’s worst nightmare.
He started his playing career as a left winger but played his best football as a right winger. He also occasionally played at inside right and inside left positions for Manchester United.
Best’s playing style, combined pace, skill, balance, goalscoring, and the ability to get past defenders. Few could argue that at the peak of his abilities, George Best was almost unstoppable.
Keep reading, as there are still many things to talk about in George Best biography, including his personal life and his individual honors.
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George Best is regarded as one of the best footballers of all time. Here, we take a look at some of the best quotes about Manchester United legend.
Manchester United scout who had spotted George Best at the age of 15 sent a telegram to manager Matt Busby which read:
Dutch legend Johan Cruyff once said:
Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said:
Diego Maradona said:
Pele also said:
George Best’s former manager Sir Matt Busby said:
Stay tuned to read more about George Best life story.
George Best Legacy
With his long hair, impeccable style, and pop star looks Best became one of the first celebrity footballers in the world. With his pop star image and celebrity status, Best earned a fortune but his football career had a rapid decline due to his lifestyle.
He once famously said about his lifestyle:
At the peak of his career in the late 1960s and early 1970s, George Best appeared in television ads for various companies. He made a cameo as himself in the 1971 British comedy film Percy. In 1984, he made a fitness album with Mary Stävin. He also appeared on Top of the Pops program in 1965. In 2000, a biographical film entitled Best was released with John Lynch portraying George Best.
Best owned restaurants and fashion boutiques in Manchester but he almost lost all of his money. When asked what happened to the money he had earned, Best quipped:
In 2007, GQ magazine named him one of the 50 most stylish men of the past 50 years.
Alcoholism and Death
George Best suffered from alcoholism for most of his adult life. In 1981, while playing in the United States, Best stole money from the handbag of a woman he did not know in order to fund a drinking session. In 1984, he received a three-month prison sentence for drunk driving, assaulting a police officer, and failing to answer bail. He spent Christmas of 1984 behind bars at Ford Open Prison. In September 1990, Best appeared on the primetime BBC chat show Wogan in which he was heavily drunk and swore. Best was convicted of another drink-driving offense and banned from driving for 20 months in 2004.
In 2000, George Best was diagnosed with severe liver damage. His liver was said to be functioning at only 20%. He was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia in 2001. In the summer of 2002, Best had a successful liver transplant but he haemorrhaged so badly during the operation that he nearly died.
After his surgery, Best continued to drink. On 3 October 2005, he was admitted to an intensive care hospital due to a kidney infection caused by the side effects of immuno-suppressive drugs used to prevent his body from rejecting his transplanted liver. In the early hours of 25 November 2005, his treatment was stopped and later that day George Best died, aged 59.
In his honor, a minute silence was held at all Premier League games. Belfast City Airport was renamed George Best Belfast City Airport as a tribute to Best. More than 25,000 mourners attended his live televised funeral as he was interred beside his mother at the hill-top Roselawn Cemetery, overlooking east Belfast.
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In this section of George Best biography, we take a look at his stats.
George Best scored 179 goals in 470 appearances over 11 years for Manchester United. He was the club’s top goalscorer in the league for five consecutive seasons.
In the rest of his career, Best played for many teams including Fulham, Hibernian, San Jose Earthquakes, Bournemouth, Los Angeles Aztecs, and Fort Lauderdale Strikers. After leaving Manchester United in 1974, Best managed to score 71 goals until his retirement in 1983.
George Best also 9 goals in 37 matches from 1964 until 1977 for Northern Ireland.
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George Best’s Honors
In this section of George Best biography, we find out what individual awards and titles he won as a player.
George Best won two League titles and the European Cup with Manchester United. He also won the East of Scotland Shield trophy in 1980 with Hibernian.
In the 1967-1968 season, Best finished as top scorer Football League First Division. In 1968, Best was presented with the FWA Footballer of the Year award, becoming the youngest-ever recipient of the award.
George Best received the European Footballer of the Year award in 1968 and came fifth in the FIFA Player of the Century vote. Manchester United legend appeared in eighth place in World Soccer The Greatest Players of the 20th Century ranking.
In 1999, he was on the six-man shortlist for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Century. Best was also an inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. In the same year, he received the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.
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George Best Outside Professional Life
Before we finish George Best biography, we have to discuss his eventful personal life.
Who is George Best wife? He married Angela MacDonald-Janes on 24 January 1978 at Candlelight Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. They met each other in the United States when Best was playing for the Los Angeles Aztecs in 1976. Best and MacDonald-Janes separated in 1982 and divorced in 1986.
George Best also married Alex Pursey in 1995 in Kensington and Chelsea, London. They had no children together and divorced in 2004.
In 2004, Alex Pursey alleged that Best was violent towards her at times during their marriage. Alex claimed that Best punched her in the face on more than one occasion.
This issue was covered in Best’s authorized 1998 biography “Bestie”. Best revealed in the book that he struck another of his girlfriends at least once and was arrested and charged with assault on a waitress, Stevie Sloniecka, in November 1972, when he fractured her nose in Reuben’s nightclub, in Manchester.
How about George Best children? He and his first wife Angela MacDonald-Janes had one child together. Their son, Calum, was born in 1981.
What about George Best girlfriend? George Best also was in relationships with Gina DeVivo, Mary Stavin, Marjorie Wallace, Annette Andre, Susan George, and Lynsey de Paul. Best reportedly had encounters with actress Sinéad Cusack, Australian Author Germaine Greer, and British actress Barbara Windsor.