George Best
George Best would have marked 68th birthday today Getty

Manchester United and Northern Ireland's mercurial football son George Best would have turned 68 today.

Hailed as the greatest footballer of all time, Best enchanted crowds with his mazy runs and dazzling exuberance in an era when tackles were harder, footballs heavier and pitches muddier.

His greatest moment in a United shirt came on 29 May, 1968, when slalomed around the Benfica goalkeeper on his way to scoring in a 4-1 victory over the Portuguese champions in the European Cup Final.

His combination of athleticism and good-looks meant he became Britain's first celebrity footballer and was known as the Fifth Beatle.

Sadly, his star diminished prematurely as his fondness for champagne and Playboy models took hold of his life.

Gripped by alcoholism, Best was treated for severe liver damage in March 2000 and had anti-alcohol pellets implanted into his stomach the following year.

He underwent a controversial liver transplant in July 2002 but his health continued to deteriorate and in November 2005 died after contracting a lung infection.

George Best
Thousands of fans paid their respects to George Best at his funeral in 2005 Getty

George Best on...

Money: "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered"

David Beckham: "He cannot kick with his left foot, he cannot head a ball, he cannot tackle and he doesn't score many goals. Apart from that he's all right"

Eric Cantona: "I'd give all the Champagne I've ever drunk to be playing alongside him in a big European match at Old Trafford"

Giving up women: "In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol - it was the worst 20 minutes of my life"

Greatness: "They'll forget all the rubbish when I've gone and they'll remember the football. If only one person thinks I'm the best player in the world, that's good enough for me"

Miss World: "I used to go missing a lot... Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World."

Arsenal players throwing food at Old Trafford: "That's what children do - throw food. That's not fighting. We were real men. We'd have chinned them"

Scoring at Anfield: "If you'd given me the choice of going out and beating four men and smashing a goal in from thirty yards against Liverpool or going to bed with Miss World, it would have been a difficult choice. Luckily, I had both."

Quitting drinking: "I've stopped drinking, but only while I'm asleep"

On the blood transfusion after his liver transplant: "I was in for 10 hours and had 40 pints - beating my previous record by 20 minutes"

Kevin Keegan: "He's been very, very lucky, an average player who came into the game when it was short of personalities"