Farewell to Best

The Irish boy from Belfast captivated crowds everywhere with sublime skill and mesmerising goals after making his Manchester United debut at 17. He went on to inspire United to win the European Cup in 1968 and was crowned European Footballer-of-the-Year. But at 26 he suddenly quit the game, only

to return with several lesser clubs in England, Scotland and America before finally calling it a day 11 years later in 1983. By then the flawed genius was sliding into alcoholism and despite a liver transplant two years ago he died of liver and lung complications after seven weeks in a London hospital.

In his heyday, living a playboy lifestyle, Best once famously boasted: “Most of my money goes on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squander.”

“He was a phenomenal player who has left us with a million memories,” says Sir Alex Ferguson, the current United manager. “The greatest player I ever saw, he had it all,” adds Sir Bobby Robson, the former England manager. “He was a fabulous player, there are not enough words to define this man,” claims Portuguese legend Eusebio. “George Best invented Rock ‘n’ Roll football,” smiles Michel Platini, arguably the best French player of all time.

Meanwhile, another Irishman, defender John O’Shea, scored the 56th-minute goal that took Manchester United into second spot in the Premiership this week with a 2-1 win at West Ham. But Chelsea, having played an extra match, are 10 points clear at the top after a 2-0 success at struggling Portsmouth. Midfield ace Frank Lampard scored the second goal from the penalty spot on his record-breaking 160th consecutive Premiership appearance.

Arsenal are third after Robin van Persie, their emerging young Dutch forward, completed a 3-0 home win over Blackburn with a dazzling solo effort. American striker Brian McBride grabbed both Fulham goals in a 2-1 win over visitors Bolton whose Senegal star El-Hadji Diouf was red-carded after the final whistle. Nigeria hitman Yakubu converted a penalty to earn Middlesbrough a 2-2 home draw with West Bromwich, while another Nigerian, Joseph Yobo, headed in straight after half-time as Everton clinched a 1-0 home win over Newcastle.

Rock-bottom Dunfermline pulled off a major shock in Scotland, teenager Greg Ross scoring the goal that secured a 1-0 away win over leaders Celtic. Hearts are just a point behind despite being held 1-1 at Motherwell. Rangers, the faltering champions, have now gone an unprecedented eight matches without a win after losing 2-1 at Hibernian and having skipper Barry Ferguson sent off.

Post published in: Zimbabwe Sports News

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