George Best and Fulham days summed up taking the deep look at his life as a footballer at Craven Cottage

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George Best was an “icon” and still is in many ways. We all love to watch the old videos of his tricks and goals, especially of course during his days at Manchester United, but this time we take a closer and thorough look into his records from the days at Fulham.

After finally leaving Man Utd in 1974, George Best himself had no focus on returning to the top flight of English football. He had a reputation and his game had faulted a bit, so the idea of playing at Fulham, together with his mate Rodney Marsh, was something that triggered him. He had before moving to Craven Cottage had spells in South Africa with Jewish Guild, Cork Celtic in Ireland and Stockport County, before he made a move to Los Angeles Aztecs in the NASL, so he had been in activity all the way and was ready to play from the first minute he arrived.

Two years had gone since leaving Manchester United, when in 1976, Fulham chairman Ernie Clay had a business eye as well as being a man of football. He had gone for a “superstar” approach and before George Best, Alan Mullery and Bobby Moore had joined, and Rodney Marsh was also “trolled” back to a life at Craven Cottage.

George Best signs for Fulham on the 12th of August 1976, with Rodney Marsh and Bobby Moore also at the club at the time, Alan Mullery had left and moved to play in South Africa with Durban City.

The joy of watching George Best in a team with Rodney Marsh and Bobby Moore made it crowdy at Craven Cottage, as the ground was filled game in game out, despite Fulham having a difficult time in the 2nd division. 21 000 turned up for his Fulham debut, coming against Bristol Rovers on the George Best made his debut on the 4th of September 1976, scoring the only goal of the game, as Fulham came out 1-0 winners.

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Said to be not as pacy as before, but still had all his skills and looked fit and ready, as he had been in play for Los Angeles Aztecs in the NASL a number of months before turning up at Craven Cottage. He even returned to international duty for Northern Ireland adding five new caps to his total, as he took part in friendlies and WC qualifiers, again showing his flair and skill against World Cup winners West Germany and World Cup finalist Holland.

After his debut vs. Bristol Rovers, he followed up in the next vs. Wolves again being glittering, and a good result against one of the promotion favourites Wolves, a crowd of 25 794 turned up. Best and Marsh had a show out there and they both new how to play and entertain, a good watch for those who had a ticket that day.

But Best and his lifestyle again became a problem as training sessions were missed and manager Bobby Campbell had his troubles to get him to understand the discipline standards at the club, but still picked Best to play as he performed well and had a major impact on saving the club from relegation with an outstanding performance vs. Chelsea, winning 3-1 and avoiding the drop with just one single point.

He even returned for a 2nd campaign with Fulham, playing 10 new games in the 1977/78 season, scoring 2 goals as his total added up to 47 games in all competitions, scoring 10 goals.

After his two seasons with Fulham, Best kept it going the NASL for four more years at Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Jose Earthquakes, and during those days making returns to Britain to play for Hibernian and Bournemouth. He also had brief spells in Hong Kong and Australia.

After his retirement from the professional game, he later played in a number of charity matches. One was for Nuneaton Borough vs. Coventry back on he 7th of March 1983. This game became a highlight for several young players, such as Paul Culpin and Trevor Morley, who both were on the field that special evening and often mentions they have played with George Best.






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