There’s nothing like eyewitness account to bring a story to life. Kevin Myers remembers the day he watched a 17 year old George Best cut a more than competent Leicester team to ribbons (subs needed), from the midfield.
Early in the match, George Best, just turned 19, was injured. In those days, substitutes were not allowed, and since his injury merely slowed him down rather than incapacitated him, he dropped back to midfield.
There followed the most sublime individual footballing performance I – or anyone in the ground – have ever seen. Unable to dribble or run, he orchestrated affairs from the centre of the pitch with a vision that was quite unearthly. He simply passed the ball, because that was all he could do; but with those strokes of matador’s steel, he cut Leicester to the heart.
It was not that Leicester didn’t play well; they were good enough to beat most teams that day. But there was nothing they could do about Best. He saw possibilities where others merely saw pitch. Soon a deadly chill settled on the home crowd as they watched their team being routinely, systematically and irresistibly slaughtered by a midfield cripple. An extraordinary buoyancy took hold of the Manchester United forwards. All they had to do was to wait for Georgie to plant the ball in some wholly unexpected position behind a flailing Leicester full-back or neatly over the head of a floundering centre-half for them to run on to.
here was nowhere to which he could not lob or slide the ball, and in order to prevent themselves being made utter fools of, the Leicester defence dropped back, making their offside trap quite redundant. The result was that United scored two swift goals, forcing Leicester to counter-attack.
God help them: lambs to the slaughter. In a bewitching display which combined a profound grasp of trigonometry with the insight of the chess grandmaster, George Best sent ball after ball through the Leicester defence from impossible angles into even more impossible destinations, to appreciative, if slightly stunned, applause from the Leicester crowd.
The match ended Leicester City 0, Manchester United 5.
George Best was burdened with more talents, and graced with more temptations, than mortal man can bear. All in all, he bore them well, gave great pleasure to millions of fans and hundreds of women, and has finally gone the way of all flesh. No reason to grieve; none at all.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty