GEORGE BEST d2005. Northern Irish professional footballer and winger for Manchester United ; one of the greatest players of his generation. Born and raised in Belfast, he began his club career in England with Manchester United who had spotted his talent at the age of 15. He went on to see great success with them, scoring 179 goals in 470 appearances over 11 years. His unique, flamboyant playing style combined pace, acceleration, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to beat defenders. He unexpectedly quit United relatively early in 1974 at the age of 27 but returned to football for a number of clubs around the world in short spells until finally retiring in 1983 at the age of 37. In international football, he was an automatic choice when fit, being capped 37 times and scoring nine goals between 1964-1977. The first of the celebrity footballers ; his subsequent extravagant lifestyle led to various problems, most notably alcoholism which he suffered from for the rest of his adult life. These problems affected him on and off the field throughout his career, at times causing controversy. He once said of his career that ; "I spent 90% of my money on women, drink and fast cars. The rest I just wasted". After football he spent some time as a pundit, but his financial and health problems continued into his retirement. He died in 2005 aged just 59, due to liver / kidney problems and complications from the immunosuppressant drugs he needed to take after being controversially granted an NHS Liver Transplant in 2002.
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