With the UK's most hyped couple trying to avoid their slide into irrelevance by moving to Los Angeles, it seems an ideal moment to look back at some disastrous instances of footballers flirting with showbiz and then retiring to the USA.

George Best

Most of what can be said about the man from Belfast has already been thoroughly covered in many biographies, documentaries (see below), and web sites. In the context of my own interests, it's enough to say that he was the very first footballer to combine exceptional talent on the pitch with activities and tabloid coverage comparable to any of his Swinging London contemporaries. Which, not surprisingly, ended with virtual retirement by age 26 and a lifetime of chronic liver problems.

Aside from transcending football to acquire independent celebrity status, Best eerily foreshadowed David Beckham in a number of other ways. They both began their careers (and hit their footballing peak) at Manchester United. Once past their prime, they both moved to California tempted by big paychecks in a fledgeling new football league. And, although Best's name has never been used as the title of a film, the Wedding Present did use his name as the title of one of their albums.

Best's most memorable USA highlight consists of this great goal scored for San Jose, albeit against second-rate opposition. Beckham might yet prove me wrong, but I suspect that his USA spell will also be a minor footnote in the context of his overall footballing career.

The most balanced documentaries about George Best are SkyOne's George Best Football Genius and Jonathan Sides' Official George Best Story (released as Genius, Maverick, Legend in the USA).

Posted on Sunday, July 29, 2007
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Comments on this post

# re: Before the Beckhams (Part 1) - George Best

It´s said that he said:
"I have spent a lot of money in girls and cars. Rest,it´s been wasted". All for it¡¡¡
Left by Slversurfer on Aug 03, 2007 11:09 AM

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