Undoubtedly one of the greatest footballer's ever, George Best was known as much for his prodigious talents on the pitch as he was for his debaucherous escapades off it. The Northern Ireland winger's career peaked in 1968, helping Man United win the European Cup while also being named European Player of the Year, but "El Beatle's" status as one of the planet's first celebrity footballers took its toll in the years following and he finished his career bouncing around the globe in cameo roles before retiring in 1984, aged 37. Sadly his rock & roll lifestyle would also eventually cost him his life, passing in 2005 aged just 59 due to complications from immunosuppressive medication he was taking post a liver transplant.
Still his legacy lives on, mostly by way of his famous quips, quotes and one-liners. We sifted through them to find the very best, in no particular order:
1. Best on his vices
"In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol. It was the worst 20 minutes of my life."
2. Best going missing
"I used to go missing a lot... Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World."
3. Best on priorities
"I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered."
4. Best of both worlds
"If I had to choose between dribbling past 5 players and scoring for 40 yards at Anfield or shagging Miss World, it’d be a pretty hard choice. Thankfully, I’ve done both."
5. Best on numbers
“They say I slept with seven Miss Worlds. I didn't. It was only four. I didn't turn up for the other three.”
6. Best on Beckham
"He cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's all right."
7. Best on Cristiano Ronaldo
“There have been a few players described as the new George Best over the years, but this is the first time it's been a compliment to me"
8. Best on Pelé
"Pelé called me the greatest footballer in the world. That is the ultimate salute to my life."
9. Best on Cantona
"I'd give all the Champagne I've ever drunk to be playing alongside him in a big European match at Old Trafford.”
10. Best on modern footballers
"Footballers today are millionaires by the time they're 22 or 23. More and more of them are going out and looking for something to give them a buzz outside football, be it gambling, drugs or booze. I got my buzz from playing. Players now have a groin injury for months and months and I often think they don't really give a toss whether they're playing or not because they're getting paid anyway."
11. Best on scoring goals
“I used to dream about taking the ball round the keeper, stopping it on the line and then getting on my hands and knees and heading it into the net. When I scored against Benfica in the 1968 European Cup final I nearly did it. I left the keeper for dead but then I chickened out. I might have given the boss a heart attack!”
12. Best on leaving Man United
“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.”
13. Best on his demons
"I was born with a great gift, and sometimes with that comes a destructive streak. Just as I wanted to outdo everyone when I played, I had to outdo everyone when we were out on the town"
14. Best faces facts
"I might go to Alcoholics Anonymous, but I think it would be difficult for me to remain anonymous"
15. Best on appearances
“If I had been born ugly, you would have never heard of Pelé.”
16. Best talking truth
On being sent to prison for drink driving in 1984: “Well, I suppose that's the knighthood f****d.”
17. Best on being named Footballer of the Century in 1999
“It's a pleasure to be standing here. It's a pleasure to be standing up."
18.Best on legacy
"They'll forget all the rubbish when I've gone and they'll remember the football. If only one person thinks I'm the best player in the world, that's good enough for me."