Wonderkid to world-beater: George Best's first five seasons in photographs

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11. Back to the day job

12 Apr 1966: Straight from Heathrow to a match the next day at Stamford Bridge. We assume George got a nice early night, but United lost 2-0, with Bobby Tambling scoring in the first minute and George Graham in the fifth.

It was only United's second league defeat since that October bruising at White Hart Lane (the other loss being at leaders Liverpool), but it started a run of just two wins in nine league games as the champions' thoughts turned towards Europe. 

That run wasn't helped by Best carrying an injury – caused, predictably, by a bad tackle. On 26 March he got his knee twisted in an FA Cup quarter-final at Preston, forcing him out of the next two games; although United's staff insisted it was light enough for him to continue, he covertly consulted the Glentoran physio, who painfully readjusted his ligaments.

He played in heavy strapping for the loss at Partizan Belgrade on 13 April but missed the remaining 10 games; United won just four (including that insufficient home victory against Partizan), losing in the FA Cup semi-final to eventual winners Everton and finishing fourth in the league.

12. Hello again, old friend

10 Sep 1966: Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Pat Jennings, wearing rather more Brylcreem than most will remember him for, dives feet-first into his international team-mate.

A year later, Jennings would score against United in the Charity Shield - amazing an audience watching the first match to be broadcast on colour TV in Britain.

Jennings went on to win 119 Northern Ireland caps, the last in 1986 on his 41st birthday against Brazil at the 1986 World Cup finals.

For his part, Best would only finally retire from professional football after a 1983 stint at Brisbane Lions in Australia, 20 years after his debut – and 11 years after he had first threatened retirement at Manchester United.

13. Digging into defence

10 Sep 1966: Another shot from that game at White Hart Lane, but this time United are on the defensive - and Best is there again, heading away from the edge of his six-yard box.

As well as highlighting Best's defensive dedication - not a trait often recalled - this picture gives a glorious view of White Hart Lane's West Stand, plus familiar faces Terry Venables (going up with Best), Paddy Crerand (behind those two), and Jimmy Greaves being marked by Nobby Stiles. 

Best set up the opening goal - a Denis Law header - but Spurs came roaring back late on to win through two goals in the last three minutes from Alan Gilzean and Jimmy Greaves.  

14. Meanwhile, off the field...

30 Sep 1966: Best – described in the contemporary picture caption as "Manchester United's young Beatle-haired winger" – touches up the goods before a fashion show at Manchester nightclub Tiffany's.

15. Up and running away

2 Nov 1966: Best's shot is saved by Peter Bonnetti, watched by Chelsea's Eddie McCreadie and John Hollins, along with Best's old youth-team mucker David Sadler.

On the previous season's trip to Stamford Bridge - note the old North and East Stands in the background - a post-Benfica defeat had heralded the end of United's title challenge.

This season, it was quite the opposite. Best scored in a 3-1 win, and United's early-season travel troubles - they had lost four of their first five away games - were in the past.

As Best put it, "If the championship was decided on home games we would win it every season. This time our away games made the difference. We got into the right frame of mind."