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Friday, November 25, 2005

The departure of the Best of the best

Old Trafford have had the depature of one legend questioned this month. For another, there is simply no question, no doubt, instead tribute to the passing of George Best. I would value Best as one of those who could grace the pitch alongside Johan Cruyff, Pele, Maradona, Marco Van Basten, there are few who can. Players who had no fear but talent, could excel against any in the world, taken their share of knocks and tackles and still get up, which puts many, many of today's players way, way down in my respect, those who fall to the ground from the most slightest or tedious of contacts. Those very players should review the days of Best, when football boots came in one colour, footballs were heavier, and shinpads were worn like eskimos have fireplaces.

Discovered when he was 15 in East Belfast, Best played his first game against West Bromwich Albion at 17, help lead Manchester United to the league title in 1965 and 1967, scored in the 1968 European Cup Final against Benfica at Wembley which put United towards a 4-1 victory (the first English side to win the Cup), and was named European Player of the Year during the same year. Best made 466 appearances for United, scoring 178 goals. He made 37 appearances for Northern Ireland, scoring 9 goals.

United's manager at the time of Best's arrival was Sir Matt Busby, who left Old Trafford in 1969. Tommy Docherty was the high profile name to take over after Sir Matt, in 1972, saving United from relegation. Yet in 1974, Best and Docherty clashed, leading to the Irishman's exit from Old Trafford, the same year they were relegated. That was the end of an unique legend at Manchester United.

"Pele called me the greatest footballer in the world. That is the ultimate salute to my life." - George Best.

"I think I've found a genius." - Manchester United scout Bob Bishop to Sir Matt Busby on discovering Best, in the streets of Belfast praticising with a tennis ball.

We have now lost him.

While Best has been well documented largely for his alcoholic consumption, EFT refer to the man known as the 'Fifth Beatle' for what he gave the football world. Best's physician at Cromwell Hospital, Professor Roger Williams, said he would be surprised if Best survived another 24hrs. Best died 23hrs 55mins after that statement. He has been arranged for burial beside his mother in Belfast, Saturday 3rd December 2005.

I convey EFT's thoughts and condolences to the Best family and friends after what has been a terrible moment for them all, received as inevitable and yet still incredible in his passing.

George Best, football legend
22nd May 1946 - 25th November 2005


Anonymous Nturtle said...

Amen. Let us not forget those who have given us something to enjoy...footballers or others!

11/26/2005 6:15 am

Blogger T said...

Thank you Redsman and Nturtle...

When I first heard of Geroge Best I was fascinated by his name: 'Best'. And when he played football he was the Best. Like others at EFT, we would have only seen Best from video-tape footage, but it is clear that he was a really special footballer.

Look at his goal in the European Cup final to put Man Utd 2-1 up in extra time. He latched onto the Kidd flick on, and with the most mesmerising body movement, ball control and composure, dribbled round the advancing keeper and placed the ball into the empty net. Bobby Charlton said that he knew Best would score even before his first touch: such was his faith in Best's footballing talent.

If you love football you love the football of George Best. EFT will forever remember his fantastic legacy on the football pitch.

11/26/2005 9:48 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...The loss of George Best is a very sad day for real football fans, and it is very hard to describe the emotions as a Gunner who can remember his first matches. Yes he wasted his talent, and god knows what he would have developed into had he stayed in the top class until he was about 35??? Apart from Man U, supporters, most genuine fans will admit to hating this little genius most of the time, but only because he was destroying our beloved team, and we wish he was ours!

I cannot subscribe to the line of opinions that rate George as the ebst ever, because he walked away from the responsibilities that comes with being so high on the ladder of fame. To be an all time great ( in my opinion ) you have to show respect for all around you at your time of greatness.

Having said that, George will always be level top with, Alex James, Pele, Puskas, Maradona, Cruyff & Van Basten.

11/26/2005 10:54 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

Indeed. Considering how it is to maintain the level of fitness required for top flight football after the age of 30-35 and perhaps beyond, Best had the qualities and talent, but I would wrap it up into one word: love. For the game, what it holds, how it is played. When you love football to the extent where you play day in, day out, with tennis ball, cabbage, lemon or orange, anything that resembles the shape of a ball enough to practice keepy-ups, you will develop a talent for it. It is keeping that talent focused continuously that is the challenge.

I think that is why Best had such talent coming into the game. Most around him practiced football among other interests in coming into the profession, whereas Best practiced it like it was his full-time profession, before he joined Man Utd. I agree with GunnerPete in that responsibility ends not after 90mins. Particularly today, the impression of professional footballers for the inspiring youngsters is scrutinised off the pitch too.


11/26/2005 11:34 am

Blogger Skippy said...

I too have only seen Best at his best on videos. He was a true great, and will be remembered for his football.

Sadly, not everyone respected the minute silence today.

11/27/2005 12:18 am


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