Historical Figures: George Best

George Best wasn't just one of the greatest footballers this country has ever produced. He was the sport's first superstar. In his heyday at the height of the swinging sixties, Best generated as many headlines for his freewheeling lifestyle as he did for his prodigious talent with a soccer ball.

Northern Ireland

Born in Belfast in 1946, Best was spotted as a teenager by a Manchester United scout. He was still a teenager when he started playing for the first team in 1963. He was one of the most naturally gifted players in the history of the game - quick, agile, a fantastic dribbler and equally strong with both feet. Together with Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, Best helped make Manchester United an unstoppable force. The team were League Champions in 1965 and 1967 and won the European Cup in 1968.

The public couldn't get enough of George Best. And Best couldn't get enough of the perks of life as a top professional footballer. He was so trendy that the press dubbed him 'the fifth Beatle'. He could have anything he asked for, which was mostly lots of booze and lots of beautiful women.

But, by the end of the decade, Best's finest years as a footballer were already over. There were flashes of brilliance but the troubled star was wrestling with a growing drink problem and missing training sessions. In 1974, he was sacked by Manchester United. During the 1970s he played for a number of clubs, including Fulham, but he never regained the glory he'd had with Manchester United.

As the years passed, Best's struggle with alcohol intensified and his behaviour was often erratic. In 1984, he was sentenced to three months in prison for drink-driving and assaulting a policeman.

He found work as a TV pundit and after-dinner speaker but began to suffer from liver problems. In 2002, he had a liver transplant. But, in 2005, he died after succumbing to kidney and lung infections. An estimated 100,000 people gathered in Belfast for his funeral.