George Best


George Best was a man riddled with flaws. His amazing ability led him into a high-rolling lifestyle that eventually brought about his death. He had a penchant for gambling, drinking binges, and womanizing, activities that bolstered his tabloid fame, but created tensions within his clubs. His friends often encouraged his behavior, saying “sober he was dull, after a few drinks he was good company. After a few more he could become violent.”[1] After a night of excessive drinking, Best even went so far as to punch his 15 year old son in the face, reaching a low point in his life.[2] Moreover, on more than one occasion, he punched his wife in the face, and when drunk would be generally abusive to her and other girlfriends he had, something he did not deny in an authorized biography of him titled Bestie.

Best, in his classic playboy car

Best, in his classic playboy car

Soon, alcohol started to affect his play. He bucked the norm of the Manchester United players, and “remained separated from it, more at home (even during his playing days) in London,” while the rest of the club “still lived in Manchester and socialized in and around the city: they did gradually move to more up-market restaurants and night clubs…but they can hardly be said to have become dislocated from their class roots.”[3] Best did not exactly fit in with the rest of the members on the team. His desire for the highlife was not shared, and eventually “he attracted the attention of the boo boys and would be jeered by sections of the crowd, whether the team won or lost.”[4] It naturally did not help that he “missed training and occasionally failed to turn up for matches.”[5] His off-the-field antics proved contradictory to the goals of the team, and he constantly fought with management and Bobby Charlton, another star on the team.[6] Best disliked Charlton so much that he “refused to play in Charlton’s testimonial match in 1972…[and instead] spent the night drinking.”[7] Tensions with the Manchester United management came to a head in 1974, when Best left the team, after which he bounced around from team to team, never setting himself up for the same type of legacy that he had acquired in Manchester.

Ford Open Prison, where Best played during an incarceration for drunk driving

Ford Open Prison

As years went on, Best’s life continued to spiral out of control. He was arrested in 1984 for drunk driving, assaulting an officer, and, failing to post bail, he spent Christmas in prison. He played one of his last organized football games ever for the prison, truly showing the descent his life had taken.[8]


Finally, in 2002, Best needed a liver transplant, as he had damaged his from heavy drinking. The surgery was successful, but even after it Best could be found in drinking publicly, causing a great uproar. He continued to drink with his new liver, and spent the last month of his life in the hospital, eventually dying of multiple organ failure in 2005.

Below is a YouTube clip of an interview of George Best on the Terry Wogan. Best was supposedly drunk for the interview, as it seems from this clip. The clip was indicative of Best’s lifestyle, and shows the lows his life had reached.

George Best talk show


[1] Staff Writer. Obituary of George Best. The Economist, December 3, 2005. Retrieved from


[3] Taylor, Matthew (2000). Football, History and Memory: The Heroes of Manchester United. Football Studies, vol 3 no. 2 p 24-41.

[4] Taylor

[5] Taylor

[6] Taylor

[7] Taylor


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