Glossary entry for
Best, George

Born May 22, 1946 in Belfast, George Best was, in some eyes, the greatest talent the game of British soccer has ever seen. He was football's first superstar and his fans considered it a tragedy when he walked out on Manchester United in 1972 at the age of 27. Best had it all, superb balance, two good feet, brilliant dribbling skills, a powerful shot, he was even good in the air. The sixties were Best's heyday, he won the a Championship medal twice, a European Cup medal and in 1968 was the European Footballer of the Year. Best's decline is well documented, but ultimately he should be remembered for what he was - a footballing genius.

Best published an autobiography, Blessed, in 2001, followed by Scoring at Half Time, a collection of anecdotes, and another memoir, Hard Tackles and Dirty Baths. Years of heavy drinking took their toll, leading to severe cirrhosis of the liver, which eventually required a liver transplant in 2002. Within a year he was reported to be drinking again, his second marriage collapsed and in 2004 he was banned for 20 months for drink driving.

Best was twice married; in 1978 to Angela MacDonald James (divorced 1986), by whom he had a son, and in 1995 to Alex Pursey (dissolved 2004), 25 years his junior.

George Best passed away in London on November 25, 2005 at age 59. For Van fan David Carney the funeral, which was broadcast live by the BBC, "was incredibly moving and was in fact a state funeral in all but name." Brian Kennedy sang "You Raise Me Up" and Van's wreath was featured in the print media reports.

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