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