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George Best 1946 - 2005
By: Bill Osborne
"I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered" said George Best after his football career ended. Despite wasting his money and a great career, those who saw him play forgave him.
For those of us lucky enough to see him perform on the football field we will remember his magic and his amazing talent, which helped him to not go round defenders, but to go right through them.
George Best played football when 'dribble' was a nice word and before the 'long ball' came into favour. He played football in the real sense. The beautiful game.
Someone else described George as;
"Genius, magician, legend, George Best is perhaps the most talented footballer ever to walk on the face of the planet. Best was the complete player, Pele, Cruyff, and Maradona - all were superb, but Best had a bit of each in his game and more.
He could beat opponents with skill and dazzling tricks, swerving through defences like a skier on a slathom course, or go past them with a burst of devastating speed. He could shoot brilliantly with either foot and out-jump much taller opponents to win the ball in the air. George Best had the confidence and arrogance to try absolutely anything - he knew he was a genius and was not afraid to show it."
After following the booze trail for may years George finally succumbed to drink related illness and was saved only by having a liver transplant. Even after that he went back to drinking again and his detractors accused him of wasting a donated organ that might have spared a more deserving case. The truth is, that when the tests were made, George was the most compatible on the waiting list and he had not 'jumped the queue' because of his celebrity status.
In the Daily Telegraph today, Graham Taylor said;
"Talented and very brave, it was hard to take your eyes off him. His pace and ability when in possession of the ball were exceptional and you did not have to understand the game to realise you were watching a great footballing icon."
"I look back to the Sixties and some of my happiest days were when Grimsby Town had won and I knew that I had played well and that Saturday-night George Best and Manchester United were on Match of the Day. Brilliant!"
Alan Hansen, also in the Daily Telegraph, should have the final word.
"I think it is important that we strip away all the stories about George Best's private life and that we look at him as a footballer.
Football people will remember him as the man who destroyed Benfica and who played a vital part in taking Manchester United to their first European Cup. He helped give them a glamour they have never lost and to have played against him at his prime would have been an experience no defender was ever likely to forget."
Full Name;George Best
Date of Birth 22th May 1946
Place of Birth Belfast
Height 5ft 8
Squad Number 10
Total Appearances 466
Total Goals 178
37 Caps for Northern Ireland
European Cup 1968
1st Div League Championship 1967
1st Div League Championship 1965
European Footballer of the Year 1968
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