Credit: Shutterstock/George Best

In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol - it was the worst 20 minutes of my life.

A footballing legend, whose ability on the pitch was praised by players and pundits alike, George Best was a superstar.

Playing for most of his career with Manchester United, he made his debut at the club aged just 17, and played in 470 matches before unexpectedly retiring at the age of 27.

Born in Belfast, the eldest of six children, Best was an academically gifted child who won a place in the local grammar school after passing the entrance exams, but was soon in trouble for playing truant - the school specialised in rugby, and young George knew that his talents lay in football. A scout from Manchester United saw a 15-year old Best playing and sent a telegram to the club’s manager, Matt Busby. It said: “I think I've found you a genius”.

George lived up to this billing. With dancing feet, a keen situational awareness, dazzling speed and a prodigious eye for goal he soon established himself as both a fan and manager favourite.

Off the pitch he made the most of his good looks, personality and fame, living a playboy lifestyle that was just as notorious as his prodigious talent. One of his favourite anecdotes about his champagne lifestyle involved a hotel bed, a Miss World winner and £1,000 in gambling winnings: “Where did it all go wrong?” asked the waiter delivering Best and his companion room service, as he surveyed the scene.

Best’s lifestyle was not sustainable. He struggled with alcoholism and when he was seen drinking spirits after having had a liver transplant, many felt that the writing was on the wall.

Looking back on Best’s life and career, close friend and broadcaster Michael Parkinson said: “Although his gifts and looks made him the perfect product for his time and he was exploited as such, no one thought how to protect him.”