50 years ago today - George Best made his Manchester United debut at Old Trafford

George Best Graffiti

On the 14th of September 1963 George Best made his Manchester United debut against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford.

Here's a look back at how his career transpired...

Manchester United 1 West Bromwich Albion 0

The Manchester United team on the day was: Gregg, Dunne, Cantwell, Crerand, Foulkes, Setters, Best, Stiles, Sadler, Chisnall and Sir Bobby Charlton. 

Goalscorer: David Sadler. 

The 50,413 spectators inside Old Trafford this day, when Manchester United beat West Bromwich Albion, had the privilege of saying: 'I was there when Bestie made his debut for United.'

Having fought off initial homesickness, Best turned professional on his 17th birthday, 22nd May 1963, and scored on his second appearance on the 28th of December in United 5-1 thrashing of Burnley at Old Trafford.

While a full international cap for Northern Ireland soon followed for the dashingly handsome young Irishman. In 1964-65, playing alongside Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and David Herd, Best was a key figure in the Red's first title triumph since the pre-Munich era (champions in 1956-57). 

The following season he almost single-handedly destroyed Benfica in the European Cup quarter-final in their own back yard, scoring a brace in the 5-1 victory to inflict upon the Portuguese giants' first home defeat in Europe.

The next day the newspapers around the world dubbed him 'El Beatle.' A second First Division Championship success followed in 1966-67 and Best proved the scourge of Benfica again a year later in the 1968 European Cup final, giving the Red Devil's a 2-1 extra-time lead en route to a 4-1 triumph. George Best's 28 strikes that campaign made him Manchester United's top goal scorer, which Best achieved in the following four seasons.

In season 1967-68, Best was named the PFA, FWA and European Footballer of the Year. As the Sir Matt Busby era ended and an ageing team was being reshaped, Best toiled with his personal demons that would haunt him until his sad death on the 25th November 2005.

Best infamously 'retired' to Spain seeking refuge in Marbella in 1972, before coming back to Old Trafford and finally leaving Manchester United for good on the 2nd January 1974.

George Best went on world-wide adventure playing in some rather obscure locations; Brisbane Lions, Cork Celtic, Dunstable Town, Fulham, Hibernian, Los Angeles Aztecs, Stockport County and the Jewish Guild of South Africa.

'If I'd been born ugly, you'd never have heard of Pele.' Many a true word is spoken in jest, and few would argue that George Best was the most naturally gifted footballer Britain has ever produced.

Speed, balance, vision, superb close control, the ability to create chances and score from seemingly impossible situations only tell half the story. George had a uncontainable desire for football to be played the way it should be, amazing trickery, flair, strength and joy. Pele, for his part, noted George Best as the 'greatest player in the world.'

Here are some highlights of George Best' career:

Best still hold the club record post-war for the most goals in a single match his 6 strikes in the FA Cup fifth round annihilation of Northampton Town on the 7th February 1970.

Best was capped on 37 occasions for Northern Ireland netting nine goals.

He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Queens University of Belfast in 2001.

In 2002 he was awarded Freeman of Castlereagh, George's place of birth.

Total Manchester United appearances: 470

Total United goals: 179

Major United honours:

European Cup; 1967-68

League Championship; 1964-65, 1966-67

FA Charity Shield; 1965-66, 1967-68

George had asked prior to his passing away to be remembered for what he did on the football pitch and not what was reported on the front pages of newspapers. There is not a single Manchester United fan that would not grant 'The Belfast Boy' his wish, and what magnificent memories they are!

You can watch a montage of George Best' goals on the compilation video below; enjoy the United Legend.

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