ESPN’s ’30 for 30′ to Profile George Best

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By JACK BELL

30_for_30_Volume_I_logoThe greatest player to never have played in the World Cup will receive the “30 for 30” treatment from ESPN when the documentary “George Best: All by Himself” debuts on Tuesday, July 20 at 8 p.m. Eastern as the lead-in to the Manchester United vs Manchester City game in Houston.

Best, a native of Northern Ireland, has long been called the greatest player produced by Britain. Best’s debut, at 17, for Manchester United was the beginning of a meteoric career in the 1960s that was filled with thrills, amazing skills and a downward spiral fueled by drink and excess and depression.

Best died in November 2005. (Yes, I wrote the obit. He was my favorite player and long ago minted a new Manchester United fan after I saw his exploits in the film of the 1968 European Cup final.) The “30 for 30” trailer is here.

“I wanted to make a film that dug beneath the surface of the caricature of ‘Britain’s First Pop Star Soccer Player’ and tell a tale of emotional depth that takes us on George’s rollercoaster journey of a life,” Daniel Gordon, the film’s director said. “This is a cautionary tale. It is a story of addiction and what can happen to someone who has so much at such a young age, who reaches unimaginable heights — and then hits the ‘self-destruct’ button throughout the rest of his descent to rock bottom.”

Best spent a part of his illustrious career in the old North American Soccer League, playing for three clubs from 1976 to 1981, scoring 54 goals in 139 games, including what some have called the greatest goal in league history, on July 21, 1981.