Club: Manchester United
History: George Best (22 May 1946 – 25 November 2005) is widely acknowledged to have been one of the greatest football players of all time, remembered for his halcyon days with Manchester United F.C.. He played for the Northern Ireland team, but their failure to reach the final rounds of the World Cup denied him the ultimate global stage. He played for United as a winger between 1963 and 1974, helping them to win the Football League Championship in 1965 and 1967, and the European Cup in 1968. He was named European Footballer of the Year and Football Writers' Association Player of the Year in 1968. He had a rare combination of pace, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring prowess and the ineffable ability to run through entire defences. Indeed, Pelé, the Brazilian who is often said to be the greatest player of all time, called Best "the greatest footballer in the world".
The great Argentinian Diego Maradona regarded Best equally highly. Best's lovable, cheeky image won him many fans, during his career and after. News of Best's death led to tears on the streets of Belfast, before and during a funeral for which some 100,000 people turned out on a rainy day. Best had developed a drinking problem while still a player, and it contributed to his early retirement from top-level football. He was imprisoned in 1984 for drink driving and assaulting a policeman and was unable to give up alcohol for any length of time. The condition of his liver deteriorated to the point where a transplant became necessary. The immuno-suppressive drugs given to prevent rejection of his new liver caused him to develop a serious kidney infection, which his doctors were unable to redress. In 2005, the infection caused him to fall into a coma. His final days were watched over by his father and other family members, and also by former football colleagues such as United's Denis Law. He died at the age of 59 and is buried in East Belfast.