Football

George Best: Soccer's ultimate playboy?

Published 1055 GMT (1855 HKT) November 25, 2015
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George Best is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. Away from the pitch, the Northern Irishman was also one of the sport's first "playboys." Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
"Boss, I think I've found you a genius." So said the scout that discovered Best and recommended him to then Manchester United manager Matt Busby. The shy, and slight, lad from Belfast, Northern Ireland signed for the English giants in 1961. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
After winning the league title in 1965 with United, Best's breakthrough performance came in a European tie with Benfica, when he scored two goals in an unplayable showing. The press dubbed him "the fifth Beatle" when he donned a sombrero upon his return to Manchester. Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Best's reputation was growing and he became a key part of the side that regained the English first division title in 1967. Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The pinnacle of Best's career came with United's first European Cup win in 1968. He scored a spectacular individual goal in extra-time with the tie against Benfica poised at 1-1. United went on to win 4-1. He was crowned European Footballer of the Year. Mike McLaren/Hulton Archive/Getty Images/file
Best was already embracing the front page press attention that was coming his way, opening nightclubs, restaurants and even a fashion boutique. His high profile also meant he was a hit with the opposite sex. His penchant for alcohol was also evident by this point. Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
But controversy was never far away. He was frequently in trouble with his club and on one occasion was suspended by United for two weeks after spending the weekend with an actress instead of playing in a match against Chelsea. STAFF/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Best quit United at the tender age of 27 but continued to play for a number of clubs around the world, including three in the United States. Here he hands Pele an award at event to celebrate the Brazilian legend. Pele called Best "the greatest player in the world." Getty Images/file
Best finally hung up his boots in 1984 and had a troubled life post-football. He was jailed for drunk driving and assaulting a police officer the same year, with alcohol still a problem. Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Best had a controversial liver transplant in 2002, carried out by Britain's taxpayer-funded National Health Service, but died in 2005 after he started drinking again. United's fans flocked to the club's Old Trafford ground to pay their respects. ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Best's legacy lives on and a film of his life is planned to start shooting in spring 2016. Of his many laconic and iconic quotes, perhaps this is his most famous: "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered." Alex Livesey/Getty Images/file