UltimateXI Profile: George Best

By May 01, 2020
George Best George Best

Even without much of an international career, George Best, Manchester United’s mercurial winger, is still considered among the greatest players of all time and rightly so. He only played for Northern Ireland 37 times over the course of 13 years, scoring 9 goals, but for Manchester United, where he played for the majority of his career, he enjoyed more success, including a European Cup title, won in 1968. Best, it is argued, is one of the greatest dribblers in the game’s history, the winger consistently displaying unmatched skill, balance, and a knack for scoring goals to boot. Scottish sportswriter, Patrick Barclay, found no comparison to Best on the field in his time, or ever. "In terms of ability, he was the world's best footballer of all time. He could do almost anything – technically, speed, complete mastery of not only the ball but his own body. You could saw his legs away and he still wouldn't fall because his balance was uncanny, almost supernatural. Heading ability, passing ability, I mean it goes without saying the dribbling – he could beat anybody in any way he chose. For fun, he'd play a one-two off the opponent's shins."

In an article titled ‘Was Georgie the Best?’, BBC journalist John May spoke about the impact Best had on the game, saying his performances never failed to bring joy. "People were transfixed, bewitched and delighted by the impish, cheeky skills of Best that invariably brought a smile to all except the defenders who had to face him," the article read.

Best would end up being a well-travelled player, racking up 586 games for various clubs, though he devoted 361 of those appearances to United. In total, Best would score 207 goals in all club appearances, a remarkable feat given two things. Best was a notoriously unselfish passer of the ball, as well as the fact that he was never the focal point of attacks.

Playing Career

Full name: George Best

Date of birth: 22 May 1946

Place of birth: Belfast, Northern Ireland

Date of Death: 25 November 2005 (aged 59)

Place of Death: London, England

Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75m)

Playing positions: Winger/Attacking Midfielder

Club Career

          Years           Team                             Apps         (Gls)

  • 1963–1974     Manchester United          361         (137)
  • 1974              Jewish Guild                       5            (1)
  • 1974              Dunstable Town (loan)        0            (0)
  • 1975              Stockport County               3            (2)
  • 1975–1976     Cork Celtic                         3            (0)
  • 1976              Los Angeles Aztecs           23          (15)
  • 1976–1977     Fulham                            42            (8)
  • 1977–1978     Los Angeles Aztecs           32          (12)
  • 1978–1979     Fort Lauderdale Strikers     28            (6)
  • 1979–1980     Hibernian                        17            (3)
  • 1980–1981     San Jose Earthquakes       56          (21)
  • 1982              Sea Bee                           2            (0)
  • 1982              Hong Kong Rangers           1            (0)
  • 1983              Bournemouth                   5            (0)
  • 1983              Brisbane Lions                   4            (0)
  • 1983             Osborne Park Galeb            1            (1)
  • 1983             Nuneaton Borough             3            (1)
  • 1984             Tobermore United              1            (0)
  • Total                                                586       (207)

Club Honours

  • Manchester United - Football League First Division: 1964–65, 1966–67; Charity Shield: 1965, 1967; European Cup: 1968

International Career

  • 1964-1977 Northern Island 37 (9)

Individual Honours

  • Football League First Division Top Scorer: 1967–68
  • FWA Footballer of the Year: 1967–68
  • Ballon d'Or: 1968; Third place 1971
  • PFA Team of the Year Second Division: 1977
  • Football League 100 Legends: 1998
  • Honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast: 2001
  • Freeman of Castlereagh: 2002
  • Inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame: 2002
  • BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award: 2002
  • UEFA Jubilee Awards – Northern Ireland's Golden Player: 2003
  • UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll: #19th
  • FIFA 100
  • Golden Foot: 2005, as football legend
  • PFA Merit Award: 2006
  • PFA England League Team of the Century (1907 to 2007):
  • Team of the Century 1907–1976
  • Overall Team of the Century
  • FWA Tribute Award: 2000
  • European Hall of Fame (Player): 2008
  • FIFA Player of the Century:
  • FIFA internet vote: #20
  • FIFA Magazine and Grand Jury vote: #5
  • World Soccer The Greatest Players of the 20th century: #8
Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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