"Whatever the incentives nowadays, surely the biggest one must be for all players to leave this kind of indelible print on the supporters' consciousness. To either produce a moment of magic or conjure up a consistent level of brilliance that the public will always talk about in hushed, revered tones."
- Adam Marshall
I never saw George Best play in the flesh as I was still short of my second birthday when he left Manchester United.
I only met the great man twice, around the time that we shared the same employers in Sky Sports, but I was fully aware of his legend having been well versed in his career by my father.
No amount of TV footage and YouTube clips can ever convey what it must have felt like to watch the wing wizard parading his talents or feel the electricity of his charismatic contribution to the game. The reason I know this is because of the way that fans from that generation speak about the Northern Irishman.
Standing by the Trinity statue last season, where Best is immortalised alongside Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, I was waiting for a friend to arrive for an evening kick-off as the drizzle fell steadily around Old Trafford.
Two strangers were within earshot, a child and presumably his grandfather, and the one showing all the wonderment that you normally associate with matchdays was the elder of the pair. The explanation for the excitement was not the upcoming fixture but, instead, the fact that there was a large photograph of Best situated along the perimeter of the car park.
It is probably quite easy to imagine how the conversation went and this individual was clearly awestruck by the impact Best had made on him as a young supporter. After eulogising about the wide man's talents, he then spotted another picture of his favourite player. "Six goals he scored that day," he relayed. "Six goals!"
The fact that the famous double hat-trick came against Northampton Town in the FA Cup was of no great consequence, nor were the circumstances surrounding his return to the United team that day. It was enough to enchant the young fan and engage his attention and the one-sided chat continued with the man graphically expressing how privileged he felt to have watched his idol pull on the red shirt.
Even though this type of chat must take place almost every other week at the famous old ground, it instantly resonated with me. I vividly recall the first time my father revealed the majesty of George Best and was left wondering if it was some kind of joke that he was the greatest footballer, a mere play on words with his surname.