The Best George Best
“Best” in English means “the best.” Many Englishmen really consider George Best to be the best player in the history of British football. He owned feints no worse than the Brazilian wizard Garrincha, perfectly and accurately hit with both legs, played well in the air, picked up speed from the spot and jerked away from defenders … And, of course, scored goals, a lot of goals.
His football career began brilliantly – George made his debut in the main team of Manchester United at the age of seventeen. It was 1963, with masters such as Bobby Charlton and Denis Low playing with it, but the young Best immediately began to justify his last name. Already in the second game, he opened the scoring with his goals for Manchester. Very soon, the young player started talking in the most enthusiastic tones. Then his fame multiplied many times, journalists even began to call him the “fifth Beatle” – in England of the mid-1960s, this was certainly the highest degree of recognition.
And ten years later, George Best left Manchester at the zenith of a completely different glory. Newspapers vied with each other about the famous football player’s novels with fashion models and photo models, about his drunken brawls in nightclubs, and countless police scandals. Due to some journalist’s hands, Best’s constant antics outside the football field began to be explained by his violent Irish temperament. But it is unlikely that the causes of everything that happened should be sought in its Irish origin. From his parents, he inherited, rather, the famous Irish perseverance, often turning into stubbornness. That is why he learned to handle the ball with the skill of a juggler, having spent countless hours on it.
Best was born in Belfast, the main city of Northern Ireland, in a good and friendly family, albeit of small wealth. His father worked as a turner in a Belfast shipyard, his mother in a tobacco factory. It is possible that George inherited from his mother, who was fond of field hockey, and even played in the women’s team of Northern Ireland at one time. The son chose a soccer ball very early and already at the age of seven he played in the children’s football team of one of the Belfast clubs. But in addition to training with the coach, he already began to improve his technique on his own, and in a rather peculiar way – he pounded the metal gates of his father’s garage with a tennis ball for hours, striking them after the most unimaginable bounces. Or tirelessly tossed the same tennis ball either with the left or the right foot, which is called “minted”, trying not to drop it on the ground.
It is much more difficult to do such exercises with a small ball than with a large one, but if you achieve perfection in them, it will be much easier to rule with a football. And so it happened: George early became an inimitable ball tamer. When he was fifteen years old, he was picked out by the Manchester scouts. For two years he trained with the youth team, and so hard that the coaches were just surprised. And this Irish persistence eventually bore fruit.
In 1965, when Best turned twenty-one, he first became the champion of England in Manchester. In the same year, in the quarterfinal match of the European Cup with Lisbon Benfica, in the first minutes Best scored two goals for the Portuguese. The game ended with a score of 5: 1 in favor of Manchester, and in fact it was held in Lisbon, and Eusebio was part of Benfica.
In 1968, Manchester again met with Benfica, but already in the European Cup final. The game was very hard, most of the time ended with the score 1: 1. At the beginning of extra time, Best, having beaten several defenders with a series of tricks, scored the second goal. It turned out to be a turning point, then the British held two more, winning 4: 1. So Manchester United won the European Cup for the first time.
Personally for Best, 1968 was a time of other triumphs. Best – the top scorer of the championship of England, scored 28 goals. The Paris magazine “France Football” awarded him his prize “Golden Ball”, recognizing the best footballer in Europe.
Needless to say, financial success followed football. Golden rain poured on Best – the name of a famous football player was used by advertising producers. Soon he himself began to sell his own name: he opened a restaurant, a travel agency, a fashion house in Manchester. The twenty-two-year-old football player received thousands of letters from girls in love with him. Transient novels and the following disappointments began.
He sought solace more and more often in alcohol, first he drank beer, then stronger liquor. In the hops was unrestrained, easy to get involved in a fight. When a football celebrity was invited to a television studio for any program, he could appear completely drunk and use foul language on the air. In short, the Irish character has nothing to do with it: the young man still could not stand the test of loud fame and big money. This was aggravated by rapidly developing alcoholism.