George Best (22/05/1946-25/11/2005) was a professional footballer born in Belfast. Best was a winger who became known worldwide for his performances for Manchester United and Northern Ireland, where he went on to earn 37 caps playing for his country.
Best grew up in Cregagh, Belfast alongside is four sisters and one brother. After playing football at Lisnasharragh Secondary School in his home city, he was scouted and signed by Manchester United at the age of 15, with a message sent to Matt Busby - 'I think I've found a genius'. Two years later, in 1963, Best made his debut for United in a 1-0 victory over West Bromwich Albion.
His first league title with Manchester United came in his second season with the club. At 20, Best received acclaim for his two goals against Benfica in a European Cup match. He instantly became a crowd favourite and was dubbed 'The fifth Beatle' by Portuguese media. The 1967-68 season was successful on team and personal levels for Best. He scored in United's 4-1 victory over Benfica in the European Cup final and he was later named the European Footballer of the Year. Despite continuing to find the net for United, that season remained Best's most rewarding time in a red shirt, but after two poor seasons in the mid-seventies, Best left Manchester United aged 27. Best failed to re-discover the form he produced for United as he moved from club-to-club - playing for the likes of Los Angeles Aztecs, Fulham, Hibernian and San Jose Earthquakes. Best retired from football in 1983 after a short time with Brisbane Lions.
Despite picking up two league titles and one European Cup with Manchester United, his individual honours outweighed his club ones. Along with the European Player of the Year award in 1968, he won the Football Writers Association Footballer of the Year. He was the inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame and was named in the PFA England League team of the Century in 2007.
Alcoholism and death
Best suffered with alcoholism throughout his life, brought on through his partying lifestyle during his career. In 2000, he was diagnosed with severe liver damage and underwent a liver transplant two years later. However, against doctor's advice, Best continued to drink alcohol and in October 2005, he was admitted to hospital with a kidney infection that effected his transplanted liver. Best died on 25th November 2005 in Cromwell Hospital in London, from multiple organ failure and a lung infection. As a tribute to Best, Belfast's airport was renamed the 'George Best Belfast City Airport.