The Best Manchester United Player Ever
Charlton, Law, Keane, Giggs,Rooney, and Beckham were all great players but none would lace the boots of the best there was
The most talented Manchester United player ever was Best.
And I make no apologies for saying so.
Don’t get me wrong in a previous article I`ve said that David Beckham was England’s most successful player of all time. And I still stand by that. But, there’s a couple of reasons why I wouldn’t put Manchester United’s Beckham as their best player ever.
Firstly Beckham is English but George Best was Irish.
And so Best can’t be considered an English player.
Also, considering I said Beckham was the greatest English player I did so in the context that he utilized his ability and opportunities in the best way possible. He forged out a professional career
that was simply outstanding and better than all the other English players.
Now I consider George Best the best Manchester United player in a different context.
Because when I think of Best I think of his purely natural ability.
But, unfortunately, I also think of the party animal that he was.
And being a professional footballer over a couple of decades and being as successful as Beckham was, was not possible for George because he didn’t have the self-discipline to achieve all that Beckham did.
But that’s not to say he didn’t have more talent than Beckham.
Because he did.
He had a hell of a lot more.
I`d even go so far as to say that if Best was in his prime and had a game of one on one with Beckham he’d embarrass him.
Of course, though, that could never happen.
Yet that’s how much raw ability that George Best had.
Make no mistake George Best was a gifted footballer. He had that X factor and when he was on form he was unstoppable.
Even when he wasn’t fully up to scratch people compared him in the same breath with Brazil’s Pele. And when you consider that Pele scored over 1,000 senior goals that’s pretty incredible.
Especially for a young man from the North of Ireland.
Because Northern Ireland wasn’t exactly the Brazil of world football. It wasn’t even the best international team on the island of Ireland. The Republic of Ireland took that accolade.
And they never made their first World Cup tournament until 1990.
Yet by that time Best was retired.
Northern Ireland also had other challenges. Because when George was a professional footballer with Manchester United a political divide ruled the country and bombs and street violence was becoming the norm.
Yet before all of that though it was a very quiet place.
Best grew up in Cregagh, east Belfast. He was of the Free Presbyterian faith. And in the 1940s and 1950s an Irish household was pretty simple. Back then, Best used his time honing his football skills with his pals out on the street.
Once he reached Manchester United’s Old Trafford he was so young and naïve that George thought it was going to be the cricket ground.
Best was the type of character that just wanted to play football. And even as a child when he played people watched in awe of his ability. So when he arrived in Manchester he wasn’t surprised that others admired his talent but because it was at a higher level of attention he wasn’t able to deal with it.
But once the cameras rolled Best was in his zone.
He’d nutmeg people on the park on a Saturday afternoon at the highest level of English football and a few minutes later dribble past them and stick the ball in the net. Then he’d be bored and try something out of this world with a ball, and more often than not it would work.
Because he loved to play like a kid on the street who was back home in east Belfast.
And when he had that attitude he was pure magic on the football field. But his problems began when he kept that attitude and stepped off the field on a Saturday and the fans gathered around him.
Because there was more to Best than his football ability only.
For one he was a handsome twinkly-eyed man with a dark black beard, an Irish accent, and a charm that attracted everyone.
The problem for Best was that he was unable to figure out when to stop playing.
He was blessed with good looks and a great personality and couldn’t do anything wrong with a football. So when the game finished he enjoyed the fanfare around him. And with that came alcohol and the excessive drinking that existed in the English football culture at that time.
And it ruined Best’s career.
A few decades down the line his habit of drinking got worse and alcoholism eventually killed him prematurely.
But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t the most talented Manchester United player ever.
Because he was.
After all, who could be better than the Best?