The sensitive Belfast-born star’s problems with celebrity and addiction are well documented, but Barton claims the genius shone from beginning to end. To reflect that, and add something different to the canon of Best literature, he’s focused on the beginning and post-United sections of George’s career. 

“Not a lot of people have gone into the youth-team element,”

says Barton, who has written numerous books on United figures.

“Seven or eight of his youth-team colleagues, like Willie Anderson and Jim Ryan, have contributed to the book, which really does bring a full picture of that. And the people I interviewed from after he left United make it a full football biography, which was the thing that was absent from the George Best library. I feel it will add to what people have already read about George; something of value. There are stories in the book which aren’t part of George’s legend.”

 

Included are anecdotes of several confidence

“explosions”

that turned the young Best from a shy, doubtful boy who had been told he was too small for local side Glentoran, to a rapidly blossoming prodigy. Before long, he was demanding the ball from youth team colleague John Fitzpatrick and fearlessly telling him that he’d dribble past the entire opposition XI… before actually turning his boasts into remarkable reality.

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