George Best, 1946–2005, Northern Irish soccer play, b. Belfast. Regarded as the greatest player ever in British soccer, he was signed by Manchester United in 1961. He first played for the team in 1963, and helped them win two First Division titles (1965, 1967) and the European Cup (1968). Noted for his deft ball control and fine sense of balance as well as on-field theatrics, he was adored by fans. The excesses of his playboy lifestyle contributed to the early end (1974) of his career with Manchester United, with 178 goals in 466 games. His later play with lesser teams, when he was increasingly hampered by alcoholism, never equaled his decade in the First Division.