09/09/2013 21:31
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Best's first season

continued to work hard.”

In the next three months, United suffered an appalling run of form and lost eight league games, including consecutive Christmas hidings – 4-0 to Everton and 6-1 at Burnley. Best had not been expected to play any part over the festive period so Busby had allowed him to return home to Belfast. But after the Reds' Turf Moor humiliation, that decision was hastily reversed by telegram. 

Best’s second start arrived on 28 December 1963 as Burnley came to Old Trafford and he scored his first goal as United avenged the defeat of two days earlier with a 5-1 win.

“Burnley’s left-back Alex Elder was a good player, but George destroyed him that day,” said Paddy Crerand. “I actually felt sorry for Alex. It was total annihilation. George was magnificent - from then on, United couldn’t leave him out.”

In April 1964, Best was recalled to the youth team and inspired them to beat Swindon Town in the FA Youth Cup final, drawing 1-1 at the County Ground, before winning 4-1 in front of over 25,000 fans at Old Trafford.

By the end of his debut season, 1963/64, George had established himself as a first-team regular, he had made his international debut for Northern Ireland and he had won the FA Youth Cup: more than enough to convince his dad to finally forget that printing job.

More: George Best 50 years section | Hear what Paddy Crerand said about George Best in our podcast

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