REAL MADRID

“George Best's spirit lives on; you can feel his presence here”

AS paid a visit to the Hermosa Beach bar which the great George Best opened in LA in the 70s: 'Bestie's Bar and Restaurant', now known as the Underground.

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The game will never see anyone quite like the great George Best - a legend on the pitch and off it. Best debuted with Manchester United aged just 17 and went on to become one of the greatest footballers ever seen - for some who were fortunate to have seen him in action in the flesh, he is still the greatest. A genius with the ball at his feet, Best won the Ballon d'Or in 1968 - the year when United won their first European Cup. A life of cash, beautiful women and glamour which, in 1976, took him to Los Angeles, where Manchester United take on Real Madrid later this evening.

George Best was with Los Angeles Aztecs from 1976 to 1978.

Best opens his own place on Hermosa Beach

Best loved the city because it reminded him of Marbella - his refuge in Spain, where he could get some peace away from the prying press. He started his Stateside career with Los Angeles Aztecs in the NASL, the North American league which was the forerunner for the current MLS. Off the pitch, Best had issues of his own - notably his heavy drinking which led him to the scene around Hermosa Beach where he decided to open a bar of his own, Bestie's Bar and Restaurant, which was popular with expats and local soccer fans.

George Best's  LA mirror

AS paid a visit to Bestie's, known as The Underground since 2002. His presence can still be felt at the bar, which is packed with photos and memorabilia - and his own seat near the back where he would drink. “One day he got a bit upset and threw it at a mirror which had taken a disliking to. The next day the mirror was replace and George seethed: “One day I'll break that one too!”, explained The Underground's new manager Duff. “We were watching his funeral live on television right here in 2005, and all of a sudden, the mirror fell - by itself... He kept his promise! I was one of the barmen here when that happened…”. Since his passing in November 2005 due to organ failure related to his drinking, Best's presence can still be felt at his old LA bar. “Sometimes strange things happen by the pool table or at the bar. We think he had such a great time at his bar that he's decided to haunt it!”.

George Best's old LA bar, as it looks today as 'The Underground'.

Best scores greatest goal ever seen in NASL

By 1981 Best had joined San José Earthquakes, and while his drinking continued, he would score an incredible individual goal which is widely considered, including by Pelé, to be the best goal ever scored in NASL history. It came against Fort Lauderdale Strikers, another of his former clubs, on 21 July 1981 and was classic Best - he stuttered and started, jinking one way then the other past six opponents before burying the ball low inside the corner of the goal.

Ken Fogerty, a Mancunian and good friend of Best's, was the last player to be humiliated as Strikers' hopelessly tried to stop him on his darting crusade towards goal. “What few people know is that, just a few minutes before that, he was involved in another incredible move which was even better when he went past seven players - but someone brought him down…”. Pure genius. There will only ever by one Georgie Best.