Historic George Best shirt loaned to United Museum

Wednesday 22 November 2023 14:45

The Manchester United Museum has been presented with a historic George Best shirt, which the Northern Irishman wore on his European Cup debut.

The shirt was kindly offered to the club by the TAHTO Center for Finnish Sports Culture and was delivered to Old Trafford earlier this month by United fan Jere Virtanen.
A 19-year-old Best wore the red no.8 shirt during United's first-round second-leg match against HJK Helsinki on Wednesday 6 October 1965. Matt Busby's team had won the first leg in Finland by three goals to two, without George, but the wunderkind returned for the second leg in M16, scoring twice.
At full-time, opposition player Jarmo Lindahl asked Best if he would like to swap shirts. Now, 58 years later, the jersey returns to Old Trafford.
Wes Brown and several former players were on hand to receive the shirt on behalf of the club.
Nowadays, George is often associated with the no.7 shirt – the number emblazoned on his back when he scored the decisive goal in our 4-1 victory over Benfica in the 1968 European Cup final.
But he wore that number in only 138 of his 470 United appearances, with no.11 the shirt he wore most often. He also wore no.9 and no.10 and, of course,no.8.
In that era, before squad numbers were assigned, players generally wore the number associated with whatever position they were responsible for in each match. The no.7 would be donned by a team's right winger, the no.11 by whoever was occupying the left flank. On this occasion, against HJK Helsinki, George played what was called 'inside right' – a role that could perhaps be compared to that of an attacking midfielder like Bruno Fernandes in the contemporary game.
Whatever job George was tasked with on the night, he proved effective. Best struck just before half-time and five minutes after the interval, scoring our second and fourth goals on the night. United coasted to victory, with John Connelly (three) and Bobby Charlton notching the others.
The shirt was received on behalf of the club by two-time Champions League winner Wes Brown on the day after the recent win over Luton Town, and it is hoped that it will form part of our Museum's George Best offering during the time it spends in Manchester.
A small-sided game between the delegation of Finnish fans and several former United players – including Brown, Russell Beardsmore, Lee Martin and Ben Thornley – was played to commemorate the exchange.
Our thanks goes to the TAHTO Center for Finnish Sports Culture and Jere Virtanen for their kind assistance, and we look forward to giving fans the opportunity to see George's shirt in the Museum in the near future.

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