Tony Yeboah/Baffoe Eleven - Charity match (Ghana)
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By the age of twenty-two, George Best had already been voted English Player of the Year, European Player of the Year and had won the European Cup, the FA Cup and the English league championship, as it then was, twice.
All this was achieved during his ten year career with Manchester United, from 1963-1974. Unfortunately for Best, circumstances out with his control then resulted in a loan deal to Dunstable Town FC. For the next ten years he would play with eleven different clubs, a new team each season, including US teams Los Angeles Aztecs and Fort Lauderdale Strikers, and Scotland’s Hibernian.
Best scored three times in the Scottish league for Hibs, including a characteristic strike against Celtic in 1980. Having received the ball just inside the box, Best side-stepped a defender and with his power and accuracy launched the ball into the top corner of the net.
Reflecting on his time at Hibernian, Best admitted it was a difficult period for the club.
“Tom Hart gave me an opportunity and took a chance. But even though at times the team was struggling, it created a lot of interest. I hope I repaid him in some way.”
Despite a career marred with controversy and many low points, Best insisted he had no regrets at all: “I’m very happy now and the way I have ended up. I had ten good years, most people don’t get two, but I had ten.”
At thirty-five, football legend George Best had retired from professional football and travelled to America to teach youngsters the skills of the game.
He felt the sport had died a little and sought to reinvigorate football by taking on a new approach to coaching: “There are a lot of coaching skills, but to me it seems that they throw the kids together and give them a ball. I want to make it a bit of an adventure for the kids and a bit of a holiday.”
Best also felt there was a lack of individualism in the game, something which he certainly knew a lot about as the first celebrity footballer.
The Northern-Irishman had a concoction of everything that would make a great footballer; flair, skill, two-footedness, speed, balance and power - the essentials for any striker in order to dribble past defenders and beat goalkeepers.
In his native Northern-Ireland, Best’s admiration lives on in the local saying: “Maradona good. Pele better. George Best.”