George Best wants football authorities north and south of the Ireland border to create a combined national team.
Best scored nine goals for Northern Ireland in 37 appearances
The former Northern Ireland star, 58, believes a united Irish side could be a force if they pooled their resources.
He told BBC Radio Five Live: "At any given time, both the Republic and Northern Ireland have had some great world-class players.
"I just believe in trying something. If it doesn't work, at least you've tried. I just hope it happens in my lifetime."
The move would be politically controversial and may face Fifa opposition, given that both nations have their own unique identities.
It would inevitably also be a thorny issue for both the Northern Ireland FA and the Football Association of Ireland, which might be required to merge in order for the unified team to become a reality.