Posts Tagged ‘Best’

Classic Shots from Pre-Season Training Featuring the likes of Best, Jennings, McLintock, Auld & Moore

 

With the start of the new season on the horizon BOBBY has delved into it’s archives to bring you a random selection of photos from years gone by of footballers preparing for the new campaign.

Whilst some approaches were perhaps a little less scientific than others, the pics are a great snapshot of the enthusiasm players brought to the game. They may not have been super-rich like footballers of today, but they certainly realised they were happier being paid to play than work down a pit for example.

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Two Bob: A great photo of Bobby Robson and Bobby Charlton training with England at Roehampton ahead of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden.

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Lumber-Up: Chelsea players workout using a 125lbs tree log to stretch during a pre-season training session in 1953.

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Poetry: West Ham centre-half Bobby Moore heads the ball during a pre-season training session in Chadwell Heath in August 1962.

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Burn Out: Pat Jennings and his epic sideburns in action during a Tottenham training session in 1973.

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Lion King: Goalkeeper Brian King of Millwall springs into life in July 1969.

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Photocall: Fulham’s Len Fisher limbers up with some stretching in pre-season at Craven Cottage, 1939.

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Balls Up: Champions Chelsea get in some heading practice at Stamford Bridge in 1955.

Jimmy Hill goes through his paces at a Craven Cottage training session, 1958

Chin Up: Jimmy Hill goes through his paces at a Craven Cottage training session, 1958.

Diego Maradona

New Boy: Diego Maradona seen here training with his new Napoli teammates in the mountain resort of Castel del Piano in central Italy on July 27th 1984.

Arsenal favourite Frank McLintock showing off his leaping skills before the 1968-69 season

High Gunner: Arsenal’s Frank McLintock showing off his leaping skills ahead of the 1968-69 season.

Manchester United manager Wilf McGuiness with George Best during a training session in 1970

Scorcher: Manchester United manager Wilf McGuiness with George Best during a training session in 1970.

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Hoops: Celtic assistant manager Sean Fallon watches Bertie Auld and Bobby Lennox enjoying a bit of the old running in-and-out-of-tyres routine in this training shot from 1967. Earlier that year Jock Stein’s brilliant collection of local players became the first British team to win the European Cup when they beat Inter Milan in Lisbon.

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Hairy: Chelsea defender Dave Webb, sporting an impressive beard, seen here in training in Mitcham, south London, before the 1970-71 season. At the end of the previous campaign, Webb had scored the extra-time winner in that feisty FA Cup final replay against Leeds at Old Trafford.

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Natter:  Tottenham captain Danny Blanchflower (left), and team-mate Dave Mackay, sit and chat tactics during a training session at Cheshunt, in July 1962 as they prepare for the start of the 1962-63 season.

 

United Lose Their Cool In Battle With Argentine Champs
October 16th 1968 Remembered

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by Karl Hofer.

On October 16th 1968, Estudiantes of Argentina won the Intercontinental Cup, beating Manchester United in a bitterly fought two-legged final.

Manchester United were the reigning European Cup holders having overcome Benfica at Wembley to become the first English side to lift ‘the cup with the big ears’.By winning the previous season’s Copa Libertadores, Estudiantes earned the right to face them to decide which was the finest side in club football.

They met for the first leg on September 25th in the Estadio Alberto J. Armando, home of Boca Juniors, as Estudiantes’ ground was deemed unsuitable. The hosts eked out a narrow 1-0 victory in a match that saw United midfielder Nobby Stiles sent off and winger Bobby Charlton receive a blow to the head that required stitches.

Despite that result, United were favorites going into the second leg at Old Trafford three weeks later. A crowd of 63,500 were on hand to cheer on the reds, many waiting for as much as five hours in the heavy rain to purchase their tickets which ranged from 10 shillings to as much as £3 in price. The match generated over £50,000 in gate receipts which was a record for the time.

Despite the partizan crowd United fell behind early when Estudiantes forward Juan Ramón Verón headed a free-kick past Alex Stepney after just seven minutes. There was more bad news for United when striker Denis Law received an injury and had to come off in the 43rd minute, replaced by the Italian Carlo Sartori.

In similar scenes to the previous years match between Celtic and Racing, tempers flared in the second half as both teams had a player dismissed – George Best for United and José Medina for Estudiantes- in the 88th minute after a scuffle. Allegedly Best punched Medina in the face and pushed Néstor Togneri to the ground in the build up to the fracas. After the referee produced red cards for Best and Medina, Best is accused of spitting at Medina, resulting in the two having to be escorted to their respective changing rooms.

Almost straight after Willie Morgan drew the home team level on the night in the 89th minute, but they could not find another goal and Estudiantes held on to win on aggregate.

After the final whistle the Estudiantes team attempted to run a lap of honour, but the home fans hurled objects onto the pitch, cutting the lap of honour short!

Probably the most violent member of the Estudiantes side was their midfielder Carlos Bilardo, whose conduct caused Sir Matt Busby to later comment that “holding the ball out there put you in danger of your life”.

In our Great Shot José Hugo Medina of Estudiantes is escorted off the pitch clutching his face in dramatic fashion after being sent-off along with United’s George Best in that second leg (Photograph: PPP).

@KGHof

Terry Neill; The Affable Raconteur
BOBBY catches up with former Hull & Arsenal Gaffer ahead of Final

Rob Shepherd meets former Arsenal and Hull boss Terry Neill.

Whatever the outcome of the FA Cup final one thing is for certain, those Arsenal and Hull punters who are in the company of Terry Neill before the match will have a day to savour.

At 72, Neill remains fit and lean, and is one of the most colourful characters left in the game. Certainly there are few better raconteurs.
On behalf of the FA, Neill will offer fans of both clubs who have taken up hospitality at Wembley’s Bobby Moore suite a fascinating trip down memory lane.

This is a man who over a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio (and yes, a few fag breaks) will whisk you through a career that saw him play on the same pitch as George Best, nurture Liam Brady and Glenn Hoddle, rub shoulders with Cary Grant and Dustin Hoffman, become friends with a Great Train Robber, oh and who was an adviser to Margaret Thatcher but eventually turned the Iron Lady down.

And of course apart from all that he played for and managed both of the FA Cup finalists.

After 11 years as Arsenal’s centre-half and skipper, Neill took on the role of player-manager at Hull at the age of just 28.

“I took a pay cut but I got an E Type jag as a company car… I think the only footballer at the time who had a car like that was George [Best]. I see one is now up for auction for a £1 million pound. I knew I should have kept it!” laughs Neill.

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“I was Northern Ireland skipper when George made has international debut against Wales at Vetch Field in 1964. Pat Jennings (former Arsenal and Spurs keeper) made his debut too. Proper legends them.

“I remember being asked after the game what I thought of Best. My reply was that he played a game that was ‘unfamiliar’ to me. I was a journeyman compared to him.

Terry Neill, Hull City player-manager, with his assistant Tommy Docherty in 1971

Terry Neill, Hull City player-manager (front-centre), with his assistant Tommy Docherty and the rest of the team in 1971

“But I became a good manager. The experience at Hull was a wonderful grounding.

“The team were in the old second division and it was a struggle. I would be driving up and down the country sometimes doing 3,000 miles a week going to games looking for players. But it could be done. I ended up finding Stuart Pearson who went on to play for Manchester United and England.

“He was playing non-league and working up on telephone poles. I still think there are rough diamonds like that out there. But now they are lost because most managers and coaches seem to rely on agents and videos when it comes to recruiting players.

“But on that front I would say Steve Bruce is an exception to the rule. He has done a great job and with due respect to the Hull players – and I like Huddlestone and Livermore in particular…clever buys… – Bruce is Hull’s biggest asset for this game.

“He’s been there and done it. He will get Hull up for it and if they get a foothold in the game then Arsenal could have a big problem… after all Hull have nothing to lose, Arsenal everything.”

So should defeat be the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign?

Neill, who took the Gunners to three successive Cup finals but won only one and eventually got the sack when big money striker signings Lee Chapman then Charlie Nicholas failed to propel the club to title success, says: “I would still stick with Arsene, win or lose.

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“But I would say he needs to take a break… step back and look at the bigger picture. He’s a workaholic but sometimes you can just do too much .The place needs freshening up. Perhaps bringing in an assistant such as Dennis Bergkamp could be the way forward.”

Given his credentials it seems amazing that after leaving Arsenal in 1983 at the age of 41 Neill never managed again.

But he moulded a career working in the media – he is still an ambassador for The Hub London and a technical advisor to FIFA – and the Thatcher government. You only live once…

“Cecil Parkinson who was Chairman of the Conservatives was a pal and he introduced to me to Maggie,” recalls O’Neill. “I became a football advisor to her at the height of hooliganism. When I got a call from here at 6. am and she said ‘Terrence, can you be at number 10 in an hour’ I knew it was important.

“One day she said to me “I think it’s about time you had a gong Terrence (Neill was being put up for an MBE). I politely turned the offer down. She was rather bemused. I had to explain to her that it would have been awkward to accept such an honour given I was a working class boy who grew up in East Belfast.”

Neill in his Arsenal heyday

Neill in his Arsenal heyday

The Great Train Robbery connection?

“When I was at Hull I used to do visits to the local prison to talk to long term inmates …and I struck a rapport with (the late) Jimmy Hussey who was one of train robbers,” explains Neill.

And the movie star connections..?

“My first job for FIFA was as an assessor at 1984 LA Olympic Games. It was first class all the way and at the closing ceremony after party I was on the same table as Dustin Hoffman, Carey Grant and Henry Winkler.

“Grantie (as O’Neill refers to the movie icon in soccer speak) asked my wife Sandra if she had liked the ceremony. She told him she would rather have watched one of his movies.

“The thing is – and this is what too many in the modern game forget – football stars, movies stars, prime ministers, celebrities… yes they are famous… but they are still people and they should never lose touch of reality.”

So where did it all go wrong for Terry Neill..?

I would suggest that for a man who has played with Best, marked Pele, was a close pal of Bobby Moore, walked tall in the corridors of power as well as Highbury’s Marble Halls – and made Cary Grant and Henry Winkler (aka The Fonz) crack up – it’s been a long life of, well, Happy Days.

So which side will make his day at Wembley..?

With the kind of lyrical Irish charm and diplomacy that saw him lead a Northern Ireland team at the start of the Troubles Terry Neill replies: “To the victor, the spoils…”

@robshepherd5

 

Has Giggs Overtaken Best as a United Legend..? We Look at the Career of the Welsh Wonder at 40

by Rob Shepherd.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Ryan Giggs has just turned 40.

I last interviewed him at the World Cup finals in France in 1998. He wasn’t there playing of course but was doing some gigs for sponsors.

Eventually I asked him the obvious, and to him, annoying, question; Did he not wish that instead of being in this hotel foyer in Paris he was with the England squad in St Etienne, preparing for the match against Argentina?

Giggs sighed: ‘Can we put this one to rest once and for all. I wouldn’t have wanted to play for England even had I qualified. I am Welsh.

‘I was born in Wales. All my relatives are Welsh. Under the rules the only country I could play for is Wales.’

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No split loyalties: Giggs says he always wanted to play for Wales and not for The Three Lions

‘Yes I’d love to play in a World Cup and hopefully I will with Wales one day. But it’s not the be all and end all for me. There are a lot of good players who haven’t played at a World Cup.’

Like George Best, who in many ways Giggs has surpassed as a Manchester United legend – certainly so in terms of longevity. Best’s United career was over by the age of 27.

Just to put the record straight, yes, Giggs DID play for England schoolboys because he went to school in Salford once he was on the books at United.

But such are the vagaries of FIFA’s current rules, it means a Belgian-born son of a Kosovan Albanian, United’s wannabe ‘New Giggs’, Adnan Januzaj, could qualify to play for England, but back then Ryan Giggs couldn’t.

It was never a debate. Never a choice. But neither does Giggs have any regrets on that front. And after all what a career it has been.

Below is a picture of Giggs making his first appearance at Old Trafford playing for Salford Boys against St Helens in 1989.

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Back to the start: Giggs pictured playing for the first time at Old Trafford, for Salford Boys

It is now 14 years since Ryan Giggs scored THAT goal against Arsenal in an FA Cup semi final replay which put United on the way to the Treble that season. Ronaldo and Messi eat your heart out…

Here is a look at Giggs’ career in numbers:

Premier League: 626 appearances (including 108 as substitute)
Division One: (pre-1992): 40 appearances (including seven as substitute)
FA Cup: 74 appearances (including 12 as substitute)
League Cup: 40 appearances (including six as substitute)
European Cup/Champions League: 148 appearances (including 23 as substitute)
European Cup Winners’ Cup: 1 appearance
UEFA Cup: 5 appearances
Other matches (Charity/Community Shield, European Super Cup, Fifa Club World Cup): 19 appearances (including 3 as substitute)

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Longevity: Giggs began his United career in 1991 and still played in the Champions League this week

He made his debut against Everton on 2 March 1991, coming off the bench to replace full-back Denis Irwin in a 2-0 defeat.

109 – Since scoring his first Premier League goal against Tottenham in a 1-1 draw on 19 September 1992, Giggs has gone on to hit the back of the net a further 108 times in the league. He has yet to score this season but has netted in every other year since the start of the Premier League.

34 – In Giggs’s time at Manchester United, he has won 34 trophies (13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, three League Cups, two Champions Leagues, one European Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup, one Fifa Club World Cup and nine Charity/Community Shields), making him the most decorated player in English football history.

This is what they have said about Ryan Giggs:

‘I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and he floated across the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.’ – Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

‘He’s an outstanding player and it’s a privilege to be working with him on my staff. I’ve seen something different since I’ve come here – just how good he is, close up – and it’s incredible.’ – Manchester United manager David Moyes

‘Only two players made me cry when watching football, one was Diego Maradona and the other Ryan Giggs.’ – Italian World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero

‘Ryan Giggs for me is one of the best players in the world. Now maybe he is old but he is a fantastic player.’ – Former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

‘Maybe one day people will say I was another Ryan Giggs.’ – Manchester United legend George Best

‘Eric Cantona is a great player, but he’s not as good as Ryan Giggs.’ – Dutch legend and three-time world player of the year Johan Cruyff

Ribery to Break the Messi Monopoly…?
The betting for the 2013 Ballon d’Or

by Rob Shepherd.

The nominations for FIFA’s Ballon d O’r have been made and the shock early favourite is Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery.

Ribery may not have the glitz or the glamour of Lionel Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo, but the French man’s contribution to a brilliant Bayern team that won the Champions League – as well as the domestic double – has not been underestimated.

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Ribery embodies the team ethic at Bayern

It should also be remembered that the award is not entirely down to who the best player on the planet (or at least in European club football) is in terms of ability, but which player has made the biggest contribution to one of the best teams.

Mind you for the past four seasons Messi has won the award on whatever criterion you wish to use or whatever solar system he has been playing.

That said Cristiano Ronaldo, who won in 2008 but has narrowly missed out ever since, now believes there is a conspiracy against him from FIFA explaining why he has not been regarded as Numero Uno on Planet Football.

His case was strengthened when the ever strange and sometimes sinister FIFA president Sepp Blatter not only said he liked Messi better but then did a weird ‘mickey-take’ out of Ronaldo when speaking at the Oxford Union at the end of October.

Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic despite being brilliant individuals are all considered to be rank outsiders.

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Kevin Keegan receives the Ballon d’Or from France Football Editor-in-Chief Jacques Thibert, in May 1979.

There is not one English player in the long 23 man list.

The first winner of the award in 1956 though was English.

Stanley Matthews won the inaugural prize after the Ballon d’ Or was dreamt up by the French football magazine France Football.

Since then there have only been five more British winners.

Scot Denis Law in 1964, Bobby Charlton in 1966, Belfast’s George Best in 1968, (all when with Manchester United although Charlton’s was as much to do with his display at 1966 World Cup) Kevin Keegan in 1978 and 1979 while with SV Hamburg in Germany and Michael Owen for his Liverpool and England displays in 2001.

The only winner from the Premier League was Cristiano Ronaldo when at Manchester United in 2008.

Originally the award, which commonly used to be known as the European Player of the Year award, was just for Europeans.

That is the reason Diego Maradona never won it when at the height of his club career with Napoli.

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Ronaldo (the original one) was the first Brazilian to win the Balloon d O’r

After it was thrown “open” Liberian striker George Weah won it 1995 when with AC Milan and in 1997 the old Ronaldo was the first Brazilian to win when at Barcelona.

The award is voted for by a group of elite football writers and will be announced in January.

It appears there is groundswell to salute Bayern Munich in the form of French international Ribery. Indeed there are five other Bayern players nominated; Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

So the “Bayern” vote could be split, but there is a feeling there could be a lobby to single out Ribery, who embodies the German clubs’s ethos underpinning his individual ability with a fierce work ethic.

Then again Messi’s immense importance to Barca was displayed last season when they were without him, not least in the Champions League semi final defeat to Bayern.

Courtesy of Betway here are the odds for the winner of the Ballon D’Or 2013:

Franck Ribery                  9/10
Lionel Messi                      7/4
Cristiano Ronaldo             8/1
Zlatan Ibrahimovic            28/1
Arjen Robben                  40/1
Neymar                           40/1
Bastian Schweinsteiger    50/1
Andres Iniesta                  50/1
Thomas Muller                 50/1
Radamel Falcao               50/1
Robert Lewandowski        50/1
Gareth Bale                     50/1
Robin van Persie              66/1
Philipp Lahm                    66/1
Mesut Ozil                       80/1
Manuel Neuer                  80/1
Xavi Hernandez                80/1
Luis Suarez                     100/1
Edinson Cavani                100/1
Thiago Silva                     100/1
Yaya Toure                      125/1
Andrea Pirlo                    125/1
Eden Hazard                    200/1

Broadbent: The Player George Best Wanted To Be…

Everyone at the BOBBY offices was sad to hear of the passing of Wolves legend Peter Broadbent on Tuesday.

Broadbent joined Wolves for £10,000 in February of 1951. He became an integral part of a great Wolves team, winning the league three times between 1954 and 1959 as well as the FA Cup of 1960.

He is also the scorer of the club’s first ever goal in European competition, netting against Schalke in the European Cup in 1958.

In our photo from August 1960 he is jumping for the ball along with Bonetti and Bradbury of Chelsea.

Broadbent made his England debut at the 1958 World Cup against the USSR, going on to represent his country seven times and scoring twice against Wales.

At a time when internationals were played on Saturdays at the same time as League fixtures, clubs had a big say in England selection policy and there was an unofficial limit on the number of players selected from one club. Wolves were already well represented; with Billy Wright, Ron Flowers, Bill Slater and Denis Wilshaw from the club regularly in the mix for places.

It’s generally felt that this is one of the reasons why the more orthodox Johnny Haynes from the less successful Fulham was often selected instead of Broadbent.

Seven caps is criminal amount for such a gifted player; A player who George Best admired above all others when he was growing up.

Peter’s wife Shirley recalls “I remember we once bumped into George Best in Majorca. And he was just thrilled to see Peter! Like a schoolboy meeting his hero. George had supported Wolves as a boy and Peter was one of his favourite players.”

“Peter was very laid back and relaxed, but George was so excited…”

Another true legend of the game, the late great John Charles, was once asked who the finest English footballer was. “That’s easy,” the big man replied, “it’s Peter Broadbent.”

The midfielder remained with Wolves until 1965, making 497 appearances in total and scoring 145 goals.

He finally left Molineux in January 1965 to join Shrewsbury for a short period, before moving to Aston Villa where he played for three years. After a season with Stockport County, he ended his playing career with non-league Bromsgrove Rovers in 1971 before running a babywear business in Halesowen.

Peter died peacefully at Beech House nursing home at Himley early on Tuesday morning, he had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease for many years.

 

Best: His Name Said it All…

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The young Best makes his debut

by Rob Shepherd.

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of George Best making his league debut.

It’s tempting to think that if Gareth Bale is worth a fee of 100 million Euros then Best would on the current market be worth, what, 300 million..?

In terms of influence on the pitch and allure off it, the modern day equivalents are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

One also wonders whether in the ‘money talks’ language of the modern game whether Manchester City would out-bid everyone and lure Best away from United as they tried to do with Wayne Rooney.

Many books, films and documentaries have been written about Best. The list of ‘Bestie’ anecdotes quips and quotes would make a book in itself. Many, especially those about wine woman and song, still bring the house down at after dinner speeches.

Below is a random selection of the not quite so obvious and some video evidence to boot.

Gone but never forgotten, here’s to you Georgie Boy…

Sir Bobby Charlton on Best’s debut :

“To be honest, his first performance for the team in a league match against West Bromwich at Old Trafford in September 1963 does not linger in my mind.
I am sure he showed some nice touches. But the overall impact was not overwhelming. It was when he returned to the first team, a few months later against Burnley at Old Trafford, that we began to see all that would be.”

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“For those who witnessed Best’s brief zenith in the 60’s, the effect went beyond the realisation that we were seeing the world’s most popular game played better than all but two or three men in its long history have ever played it.”
Hugh McIlvanney, Sports Journalist

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“Shellito was taken off suffering from twisted blood!” United team-mate Pat Crerand after Best had given Chelsea full-back Ken Shellito a torrid time.

“There are times when you want to wring his neck. He hangs on to the ball when players have found better positions. Then out of the blue he wins you the match, and you know you’re in the presence of someone special.” Paddy Crerand, again

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Sir Alex Ferguson on the “stupidity” of likening Ryan Giggs to Best.

“He’ll never be Best. Nobody will. George was unique. The greatest talent our football has ever produced – easily! Look at the scoring record, 137 goals in 361 league games. A total of 179 goals for United in 466 matches played. That’s phenomenal for a man who did not get his share of gift goals that sometimes come to specialist strikers.”

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“He has ice in his veins, warmth in his heart and timing and balance in his feet.” Danny Blanchflower, Spurs star and Northern Ireland captain.

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Little did he know it, but Best was set to enthrall the world with his skill and style

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“Keegan is not fit to lace Best’s drinks.”
John Roberts, football writer, after Best said Kevin Keegan was not fit to lace his boots.

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“George Best was the greatest player in the world.” Pele, considered by many as the world’s greatest, admired Best.

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Best, in retirement, to a small group of journalists, with a wry smile on his face: “If I had been born ugly…you would never have heard of Pele.”

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Best on Sir Matt Busby: “He never said much after a game. ‘Well done son’ would make me feel great. In fact the best compliment he ever paid me was to say I was the best tackler in the club. ‘Sometimes I’m frightened for you’ he said.”

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“With feet as sensitive as a pickpocket’s hands, his control of the ball under the most violent pressure was hypnotic. The bewildering repertoire of feints and swerves … and balance that would have made Isaac Newton decide he might as well have eaten the apple.”

McIlvanney, writing in The Sunday Times.

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Best: Twisting the blood of defenders everywhere

“He was able to use either foot – sometimes he seemed to have six.” Sir Matt Busby on Best.

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Of Best’s courage, David Sadler said of him circa ’68: “At the time he was the complete man. He was so brave, so strong in comparison to his size and build.

If he got injured he’d still play. In my opinion he was without doubt the greatest player I ever saw or played against”.

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Best on his demise at the age of just 26:

“It had nothing to do with women and booze, car crashes or court cases. It was purely football. Losing wasn’t in my vocabulary. When the wonderful players I had been brought up with – Charlton, Law, Crerand, Stiles – went into decline, United made no real attempt to buy the best replacements. I was left struggling among fellas who should not have been allowed through the door. It sickened me that we ended up being just about the worst team in the First Division.”

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“As a Manchester United fan I always saw George Best as a football legend and it was a proud moment for me when I wore the same number seven shirt as him. He is one of the greatest players to have ever graced the game and a great person as well.” David Beckham on following in Best’s footsteps.

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Bobby Charlton:

“When I look back on a life that was too brief, too troubled – whatever bright light George attempted to shine on it at time – I share that sense of wonder, sometimes disbelief when I think of how good he was and all those improbable things he achieved under such immense pressure.”

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And Van Morrison
In a factory in a street called Bread in East Belfast
Where Georgie knows best
What it’s like to be Daniel in the lion’s den
Got so many friends only most of the time

From the song ‘Ancient Highway’