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Last Updated: Friday, 25 November 2005, 13:50 GMT
The best of Best
By John May

George Best
Best leaves a legacy of memories
George Best left a treasure trove of footballing memories - and everyone will have their own favourite Bestie moment.

It may be a goal, it may be a particular piece of impish skill, it may be a match on which he indelibly stamped his name.

BBC Sport has picked out five to choose from...


March 9, 1966: Benfica 1-5 Man Utd. European Cup quarter-final, second-leg, Stadium of Light, Lisbon.

The night a legend was born.

United travelled to Lisbon with plans to carefully protect a 3-2 first-leg lead. Somebody forgot to tell Best.

Within 10 minutes United were 2-0 up, and Best's two goals inspired them to a 5-1 win, the first defeat Benfica had ever suffered in the European Cup at the Stadium of Light.

Best's goals were a neat, flicked header, and a run from the halfway line, leaving defenders in his wake before rounding the keeper.

After the game, a fan ran on to the pitch with a knife, intending to claim a lock of Best's hair. Best was pictured after the game in a giant sombrero, prompting the tag of 'El Beatle' which stuck.

United boss Sir Matt Busby wryly said afterwards: "Our plan was to be cautious, but somebody must have stuffed cotton wool in George's ears."

May 29, 1968: Man Utd 4-1 Benfica, European Cup final, Wembley

A young George Best earned the nickname El Beatle
A young Geroge Best earned the tag El Beatle

Once again, Best beat Benfica.

The Portuguese giants had taken the final into extra-time and were pressing for the lead when a clearance upfield found Best inside the centre-circle, just inside the Benfica half.

Off he set, with Portugal skipper Mario Coluna among those desperately trying, but ultimately failing, to keep up.

A typical Best shimmy and shake of the hips left goalkeeper Enrique sprawling and an empty net at Best's mercy.

Best later said he wanted to take the ball up to the line and head it over the line, but did not dare risk it.

February 7 1970. Northampton 2-8 Manchester United, FA Cup, fourth round, County Ground, Northampton.

Best wrote his name into the record books with a single-handed demolition of unlucky Northampton. His six-goal haul was a then-record for an FA Cup tie.

The masterclass contained the complete set from Best; headers, cheeky flicks, dribbles, all against defenders who came with a tough reputation, but were unable to get close enough even just to kick him.

The luckless keeper on the receiving end was Kim Book, brother of Manchester City captain Tony.

May 15, 1971: Northern Ireland 0-1 England, Home International, Windsor Park Belfast.

George Best in Northern Ireland colours
Best's finest moment for Northern Ireland never counted

Still one of the highlights of Best's career, even though it ultimately counted for nothing.

Gordon Banks had enhanced his reputation as the best keeper in the world the previous summer with what is widely regarded as the greatest ever save - his save from Pele's header in the 1970 World Cup.

But Best almost made him look a stooge with a piece of lightning thinking.

Best was idling like a street-corner urchin as Banks prepared to punt the ball upfield. The England keeper tossed the ball into the air and in the instant he draw his leg back, Best toe-poked the ball upwards.

As a bemused Banks looked around for the ball, Best nodded it into the empty net, only for the referee to disallow the goal for dangerous play.

October 2, 1971, Man Utd 2-0 Sheffield Utd, Division One, Old Trafford.

The Match of the Day cameras were on hand to record a goal that had 'George Best' written through it like a stick of Blackpool rock.

When Best picked up the ball in the centre-circle he looked distinctly annoyed as there was no team-mate looking for a pass.

With little else on and an air of "if you want a job done properly, do it yourself," Best set off towards goal.

Defenders ganged up on him to shepherd him away from goal, but by the time Best had reached the edge of the penalty area he was at full speed.

And yet, there seemed little danger as he was ushered ever-wider from the goal, and the angle become ever more acute.

But a final shift into top gear took him half a yard clear of the chasing defender, enough space for Best, with the minimum of backlift, to whip a shot across the keeper and into the far corner.


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