Sport-On this day: Born May 22, 1946: George Best, Northern Irish footballer

SHOWS:

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, UK (FILE) (BBC - NO USE UK / INTERNET)

1. SOCCER GREAT, GEORGE BEST, TRAINING WITH MANCHESTER UNITED

2. THEN MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER, MATT BUSBY, WATCHING

VARIOUS UNKNOWN LOCATIONS (FILE) (BBC - NO USE UK / INTERNET)

3. BEST PLAYING IN AN ENGLISH LEAGUE GAME

4. FANS

5. MORE OF BEST PLAYING

6. VARIOUS OF BEST SCORING FOR MANCHESTER UNITED AGAINST CHELSEA AFTER RIDING FIERCE TACKLE BY RON "CHOPPER" HARRIS (OCTOBER 27, 1970)

7. BEST ENTERING A NIGHT CLUB

8. WOMEN DANCING

9. BEST WATCHING

10. VARIOUS OF BEST MODELLING

11. EXTERIOR OF BEST'S SHOP, "ROGUE"

12. VARIOUS OF BEST POURING IN TOWER OF CHAMPAGNE GLASSES, PEOPLE CELEBRATING

13. BEST SCORING WITH A HEADER FOR MANCHESTER UNITED

14. BEST SCORES AGAINST RAPID VIENNA (1966)


BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND, UK (FILE - DECEMBER 3, 2005) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

15. AERIAL OF PEOPLE LINING STREET FOR BEST'S FUNERAL PROCESSIONS

16. BEST'S COFFIN WHEELED OUT TO HEARSE

17. AERIAL OF COFFIN BEING LIFTED IN FRONT OF BEST'S FATHER'S HOUSE WHICH IS FULL OF OFFERINGS

STORY: George Best was arguably the finest footballer never to have played in a World Cup yet his absence from the biggest stage did little to harm his international fame.

A remarkably gifted forward, the Northern Irishman broke new ground by also becoming a celebrity whose off-field behaviour generated as many column inches as his ability on the pitch.

Best's talent emerged at the perfect moment for a footballer to enter pop culture - in the late 1960s, when British music was a major global influence.

But like many of those musicians, Best followed the path from glamour, freshness and excitement in the "Swinging Sixties" to become, in the 1970s, a troubled figure battling addiction.

While it was alcohol and not drugs that was Best's downfall, there was a similar waste of talent to those rock stars who prematurely lost the energy and verve of their heyday but still appeared in the papers alongside model girlfriends.

Although Best had been thrilling English fans for several years already, winning league titles with Manchester United in 1965 and 1967, he emerged as a global star in 1968.

Best scored the brilliant second goal in Manchester United's 4-1 extra time victory over Benfica in the European Cup final at Wembley as they became the first English team to win the competition.

In the same year, still only 22, he won England's Footballer of the Year and the Ballon d'Or awards.

Yet rather than be a launching pad for a career that would put Best in the same category as Pele, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff, 1968 turned out to be the peak of his achievements.

Best never won another major trophy and within six years of that victory he had left United who were on their way to relegation to the second division in 1974.

He was only 27 and had he been fit and well could have looked forward to another eight years or so of top-level football but instead his alcohol problems intensified.

After a spell with Fulham in England's second division, where his skills were still evident, Best spent the rest of his career in the United States, interrupted by a less than stellar stint with Hibernian in Scotland and his final years featured the odd game in Hong Kong and Australia.

Best's drinking led to a liver transplant and he died in November, 2005 aged 59.

(Production: Kurt Michael Hall)