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The ninth of our Irish Sporting Legends is George Best.
George Best (22 May 1946 – 25 November 2005) was a professional footballer who played as a winger for Manchester United and the Northern Ireland national team. In 1968 he won the European Cup with United, and was named the European Footballer of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year.
Such was Best’s talent and charisma that he became one of the first celebrity footballers, earning the nickname “El Beatle” in 1966. After making his debut for United aged 17, he scored 179 goals from 470 appearances over 11 years, and was the club’s top goalscorer in the league for five consecutive seasons.
Before he died, Best was voted 8th in the World Soccer 100 greatest football players of the 20th century election in 1999 and was voted 16th in the IFFHS World Player of the Century election in 1999. He was one of the inaugural 22 inductees into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2004 he was voted 19th in the public UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll and was named in the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players. Former Brazilian footballer Pelé, considered by many as the world’s greatest, stated, “George Best was the greatest player in the world”.