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

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

31. Into history

29 May 1968: Best goes past Jose Henrique to put United in front. The Mancunians had slumped to the turf at the end of normal time, but they tore into Benfica at the restart and within two minutes Best had turned the game decisively. Finally losing his markers, he latched onto a Brian Kidd header, skipped past one tackle, rounded Henrique and calmly tapped the ball home. A minute later Kidd doubled the difference, and shortly afterwards Charlton made sure with his second, United's third headed goal of the evening making it 4-1. 
At the final whistle, as United players and staff embraced on the pitch, Benfica's Brazilian coach Otto Gloria betrayed a certain bitterness while also acknowledging the victors' virtues: ‘Manchester United are very good and they had a big advantage at Wembley. Some of the Benfica players like Torres and Coluna felt some difficulty early on with knocks and could not produce the football they normally would. The title is in very good hands.’
In truth, it didn't matter what others thought. Matt Busby – knighted later that year – had finally become a European champion. Typically, he shunned the limelight, refusing a request by his senior players to go up for the cup himself. 

32. Champion of youth

29 May 1968: Best and David Sadler celebrate winning the European Cup. Five years earlier, Best had been "green with envy" when his fellow youth-team prospect had made his first-team debut ahead of the Northern Irishman; now they were united in victory at the age of 22. 
Kent-born six-footer Sadler had joined United from Maidstone, with whom he had been an England Amateur international. Like Best, he would stay at United until the 1973/74 season – but he left to join Preston, then managed by Bobby Charlton, whereas the Belfast genius had other reasons to leave. But that's another story...

More features every day on