Manchester United''s George Best and The Most Stylish Footballers of All Time
THE GREATEST GREATS
On the day of Zico’s birth, his father ran to the shops and bought him two football kits. One belonged to the most loved league team in all of Brazil: Flamengo, and the other for the national side. Within 22 years, he went on to play a central role in the two teams that defined the Brazilian style of football. Spare a thought, if you will, for a friend of Farrell called Dave: when he was born, his dad rushed to the shop and bought a pork pie and a can of Stella. Needless to say, Dave is not in the same league as Zico. But who is? Very few people can claim to have had such an effect on the beautiful game as Zico, who is commonly known as the greatest passer of the ball that ever lived. Can you imagine being commonly known as that? Dave can’t. Zico’s grace and understanding on the pitch have served him well in management too. He is calmness personified, keen to talk and to listen, devoid of the haut en bas mannerisms that separate ineffectual managers from great players.
You could be forgiven for feeling vastly inadequate next to this dude. Be thankful – not for what you’ve got – but for the single fact that you didn’t go to school with him. That 5th Year disco where you ‘got lucky’ would have been very different with Claudio Marchisio on the dancefloor. Scouted by Juventus whilst beating legions of screaming girls away with a shitty stick, this crunching midfielder isn’t afraid of shooting, nor putting in the effort in order to appear effortless. He is equally competent with his right and his left foot. He’s fitter than Ryan Gosling. And, prior to this week’s news about Sir Alex, he was rumoured to be coming to Manchester Utd.
THE REAL McCOY
In the days before science altered sports, one man embodied the expression unnaturally gifted. That man was called Best. His first name was George, and his middle name: Is. Arriving at a Manchester United beset by the shadows of the Munich air disaster, George’s mercurial talents formed the heart of the Charlton-Best-Law triumvirate that rejuvenated the team’s spirits, and their fortunes. Equipped with sublime balance and instinctive timing, Best’s singular ability to grab a match by the scruff of its neck ensured that most Saturday evenings would be spent celebrating. And we all know where that led. George Best was never going to be a porcelain ornament of the professional sports merry-go-round. But his fondness for the escapism found at the bottom of a pint glass should never soil the memory of his sporting brilliance. He was tricksy. He could be wayward. But he was – without a doubt – an iconoclastic superstar. When you consider his life in retrospect, what’s missing isn’t any more goals, but an Andy Warhol portrait of him.
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