The Greatest Player who Never Appeared in the World Cup Finals

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 17th Jun 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/15iajwqu/
Posted in Wikinut>Celebrities>Sports

This player has the distinction of being recognised as one of the greatest football players of all time, yet because his nation failed to qualify for both the European Nations Championship and the World Cup he has the distinction of being the of being the greatest player to have not appeared at the final stage of each competition.

Great Footballers

There have been some truly great players that have played on the world stage of football including:

  • Pelé
  • Johan Cruyff
  • Franz Beckenbauer
  • Diego Maradona
  • Eusébio
  • Bobby Charlton

It is not all about goal scoring, but how plays are set-up, how passes are made, how opportunities are created. For one individual, who in 1999 was voted 16th in the IFFHS World Player of the 20th Century, appearing in the great national cup competitions was never his destiny since Northern Ireland failed to qualify for wither competition during his playing time, yet this man had a truly great career, playing his best years for one of the greatest clubs in the world, Manchester United, where he scored 137 goals in 361 appearances, one of Busby's Babes.

He became one of the first celebrity footballers, being as well known off the pitch as well as on, his extravagant lifestyle led to various problems, specifically alcoholism, from which he suffered for the whole of his life, He earned a fortune but admitted in an interview with the BBC "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars – the rest I just squandered."

Simply the Best

I remember George Best playing football for Manchester United, I saw him play at The Dell (home at that time of Southampton FC) and as a traditional right-winger, he could manage the ball like magic, stop in an instant, change direction, and deliver a cross with pin-point accuracy onto the head of the centre-forward - he knew where every player on the pitch was at all times and thought ahead of the play.

Pelé once described him as "the greatest player in the world". He was born and brought up in East Belfast, his family being Free Presbyterians, his father being a member of the Orange Order. Best was gifted both academically and with his sporting skill. He was discovered in Belfast by Manchester United scout Bob Bishop, who penned a telegram to the manager Matt Busby which read "I think I've found you a genius," but for all his genius came a mountain of trouble. He was hopelessly homesick and kept returning to Northern Ireland, but eventually Best made his First Division debut, aged 17, in September 1963 against when his team defeated West Bromwich Albion 1 - 0 at Old Trafford, not playing again for many weeks, in all making 26 appearances in his début season.

A Pair against Benfica

Best was catapulted to superstar status at 19, after scoring two goals in a European Cup quarter-final match against Benfica at the Estádio da Luz on 9 March 1966, with the Portuguese media dubbing him "O Quinto Beatle", "the fifth Beatle" in English - talent and showmanship making him both a crowd and media favourite, and he went from being headline news in the back pages to the front pages and kept making headlines.

This reputation was enhanced in 1968, when Manchester United faced six times European champions Real Madrid in the semi-finals, Best scored the only goal of the opening game (in Manchester) with a superb 15-yard strike that many described as one of Best's finest ever goals, if not one of the best goals ever. The second leg at the Bernabéu stadium he was marked out of the game, but on the one time Best got the better of Spaniard Manuel Sanchís Martínez he made a deadly cross to Bill Foulkes, who calmly found the net to level the game and win a trip to the final against Benfica at London's Wembley Stadium.

6 in the Net

In February 1970, Manchester United had a spectacular 8–2 victory over Northampton Town in the FA Cup, the game was played in a mud-bath at Northampton's County Ground, that Manchester United won was not a surprise, but the scale of the victory was, especially with Best putting 6 into the net. His sixth goal saw him going one on one with Northampton goalkeeper, Best made a feint to go right which put goalie Kim Book on his backside, before he went left and simply walked the ball into the net.

It was also at this time that Best began to get into disciplinary trouble being fined by the Football Association for receiving three yellow cards for misconduct, he was also suspended by United for two weeks after missing his train to Stamford Bridge after spending a weekend with his actress girlfriend.

Flamboyancy was the name of the game with George Best, it could be said that he invented the phrase "work hard, play hard", trouble is he allowed the play to get in the way of his work and that is where he got into trouble, but there was doubting that as a player he was one of the best to ever grace the football field. It could be argued that his failure to play at the finals stage of either of the two premier national tournaments would mean he has no business being marked among the world greats, Yet I remember as a youngster, the day when Manchester United came to town - we we fortunate enough to see the game, my dad, my brother and I, we all hated Manchester United with a passion, but when George Best took off down the right wing, and left every defensive player wondering what storm just went by, he sent the ball into the penalty box and that was it we were one - nill down and would never recover because no-one could stop Best.

Images & Pictures

All of the pictures shown here are courtesy of the sports pages of the British press, although each was reproduced on the Internet, where I clipped them. It is difficult to give recognition to the original photographers with such images.

Also By Peter Giblett

Peter Giblett regularly publishes here on Wikinut and contributes a regular column on 2 Drops of Ink, a site dedicated to the improvement of writing, grammar, and prose and his own blog called GobbledeGoox. Recent works on Wikinut include:

Wikinut is great a place to share some of your own personal wisdom by adding a comment or becoming a writer, join Wikinut and write.

Tags

George Best, Great Footballers, Simply The Best, World Greats

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
2nd Jul 2015 (#)

I think you're probably right in your choice, although Ryan Giggs of Wales is another viable candidate for this accolade.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
2nd Jul 2015 (#)

Possibly.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
2nd Jul 2015 (#)

It's rather difficult to compare the top players of football. However, I tend to agree with you.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
2nd Jul 2015 (#)

It can be difficult to compare, for example I include Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks (both goalkeepers) in my top five of all time.

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author avatar kaylar
2nd Jul 2015 (#)

I always felt if he would just become serious about football...leave the craziness for after....

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
3rd Jul 2015 (#)

Yes... perhaps then he could have commanded anything he wanted

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
5th Jul 2015 (#)

George Best was known among the best of the best though I thought he played for England.

Some just lose it like Paul Gascoigne on a downward spiral too soon due to their habits.

Interesting are similar thoughts like those who never won Wimbledon title and among them are Rosewall, Lendl and possibly Henman. Another list could be those considered greats but not good enough at World Cups like Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar - siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Jul 2015 (#)

Siva, He was from Northern Ireland and due the division of the leagues in the UK there are four nations competing and Northern Ireland at that time were perhaps the weakest of them.

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author avatar Carol Roach
5th Jul 2015 (#)

Interesting write up I don't follow the sport I really don't understand it.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
5th Jul 2015 (#)

Carol, that is fine. thank you for your thoughts. I was pleased to see that England's women finished 3rd in the World Cup yesterday,

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author avatar Retired
5th Jul 2015 (#)

Carol, I don't think that there is a lot in Association Football to understand - it's the American version of Football that I find incomprehensible!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
6th Jul 2015 (#)

John, Carol, As an Englishman (from the proximity of Twickenham) living in Canada I understand all four codes of football, Association, Rugby, American and Canadian

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author avatar Retired
6th Jul 2015 (#)

Peter, Don't you mean five? I refer to the very different games of Rugby League and Rugby Union!

I'll let you off the sixth - Australian Rules!

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
6th Jul 2015 (#)

I meant to say Rugby Union - never quite did get all the differences in Rugby League. I perhaps know Aussie Rules a little better, but that is more akin to the Gealic game.

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author avatar Retired
7th Jul 2015 (#)

I suppose that League is about as close to American Rules as British team sports ever get.

The basic difference between Union and League is that in the latter a tackled player keeps the ball and passes it back to another player. This can happen for a maximum of six times, after which the ball is handed to the other side. It is usual for the ball to be kicked forward after the fifth tackle.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
7th Jul 2015 (#)

Thank you John

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
6th Jul 2015 (#)

Who is the greatest of them all - and out came the name of Wayne Gretzky, and I had never heard about him! And that says it all about our different sports pursuits.

When I saw Australian Rules Football on TV, I was more amused by it like the American School Principal at a cricket game in Indonesia where I played for "India" against "Rest of the World". There was one young Englishman, who had played for a minor county, getting out to my gentle off spin and his parting shot - are you by any chance the same Test cricketer Siva? siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
6th Jul 2015 (#)

Siva, Gretzky is an Ice Hockey player.

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author avatar Ptrikha
22nd Jul 2015 (#)

Great article - sharing it on Tsu. I read about George Best first time around 18 years ago, and he was truly a legend. I also like your blogs very much Peter.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
22nd Jul 2015 (#)

Ptrikha, I noticed that you had been +1ing my 2Drops of Ink posts recently as well

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author avatar Ptrikha
27th Jul 2015 (#)

Yes Peter I like them a lot.

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author avatar Sean_Victorydawn
10th Sep 2016 (#)

there are plenty of football stars in the past from club competition, but they haven't had a chance to make international hits: Cevad Prekazi is my favorite in this case, most famous for his freekick goal against Monaco in UEFA Cup-Winners-Cup semi finals 1989

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