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George Best: A dedicated follower of fashion

The swinging sixties had it all, the Beatles, sharp suits, Soho and George Best. On the 9th March 1966, Manchester United won 5-1 away to Benfica. On the night, George Best scored two goals for Matt Busby’s aces and registered an assist. The nineteen-year-old Best had European football at his feet.

Not only did the Belfast boy possess such skill, pace, and dribbling ability, he also possessed good looks and a Northern Irish charm. Best would not have looked out-of-place in any of the rock bands of the 60s.

The morning after George Best took Lisbon by storm, the United team landed in England. As the team were coming off the plane, George Best was wearing a leather jacket, sunglasses, and an oversized sombrero. This caught the attention of the press and a picture of him was published in an English newspaper where they nicknamed Best ‘El Beatle’ due to his mop-top haircut.

Between 1963 and 1974, the Ulsterman represented Manchester United 470 times whilst scoring 179 goals. During his tenure at Old Trafford, Best won an FA Youth cup, two First Division titles and the famous European Cup in 1968. Best went on to win the Ballon d’Or in 1968, a testament to how good a player he was. To this day George Best’s name will still be chanted at Old Trafford. How many players have their name chanted by their club’s fans 55 years after they make their debut? Very few is the answer to that.

George Best went from the newspaper’s back pages to the front pages very quickly. He was the first footballer to cross over into popular culture. The Belfast boy was caught on camera dancing during the Rolling Stone’s 1965 performance of ‘The Last Time’ on Top of the Pops. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Best ran a fashion store called George Best’s Boutique. It was situated on Bridge Street in Manchester. They sold the latest trends which signifies just how in touch Best was with his fashion. Best also ran a nightclub in Bootle Street in Manchester called Slack Alice’s (now 42nd Street nightclub).

For the times it was, George Best had all the marketing values that David Beckham possessed. However, for Best it wasn’t just the celebrity glamour, he engaged in the rock n’ roll that came with it. Perhaps the winger’s downfall was his alcoholism. Best had a very short career at the top. Near the end of Busby’s spell as United manager, Best had started to miss training sessions and once Busby left the helm at Old Trafford, Best was never the player he once was.

Best had spells with many other clubs but he could not rediscover his form. With the ability George Best possessed, if he was around today in a different cultural environment, he would be expected to be up there with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Unfortunately, on the 25th November 2005, George Best passed away. He was granted a state funeral by the Northern Irish government. To show the importance of Best’s contribution to not only football but to society, there were between 75,000-100,000 people lining the streets for the famous wearer of Manchester United’s number 7. People from all backgrounds united to pay their respects to George Best a true legend.

George Best will go down as one of the greatest ever players to grace the turf at Old Trafford. On the 25th November 2015 during a Champions League home tie against PSV Eindhoven, ten years after Best died, the Old Trafford faithful shone their lights in the seventh minute of the game to show their respects for George Best. If one goes to a match at Old Trafford today, they will not be able to avoid hearing or seeing a mention or a picture of George Best.

Written by Shane Purcell

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