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

In less than half a decade, George Best went from wet-eared wunderkind to Golden Boot-wearing champion of Europe. editor Gary Parkinson looks at a footballing fairytale - and, while he's at it, admires the changing architecture of England's top-flight stadiums... 

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1. Making his mark

15 Feb 1964: George Best turns the ball in to score Manchester United's fourth goal, completing an FA Cup Fifth Round rout of Barnsley at Oakwell. After making his first-team debut in the previous September's home win over West Brom, Best had returned to the reserves and youth sides until a 6-1 Boxing Day beating at Burnley convinced manager Matt Busby to recall the 17-year-old – literally: he was back in Belfast having a family Christmas until summoned by telegram. 

Best starred in United's 5-1 win in the return game with Burnley (at the time, teams faced each other twice over Christmas) and became a first-team fixture, making 26 appearances and scoring six goals. United finished second in the league and reached the FA Cup semi-finals and European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals; Best also helped United win the FA Youth Cup for the first time since the developing Busby Babes won it every year since 1953 and 1957.