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George Best's birth certificate reveals he was first called 'Ronald Samuel'

Exclusive: Northern Ireland's most famous son wasn't always called George

By Claire McNeilly

Published 06/05/2015

The birth certificate
The birth certificate
George Best in his Manchester United days
Best playing football as a child

Ronald Samuel Best. It doesn't quite have the same ring to it... but, for 15 days, that was what Northern Ireland football legend George Best was actually called.

Indeed, his birth certificate shows a disparity between the Christian names given when he was born, on May 22, 1946, and the one he was later baptised with.

The Belfast Telegraph tracked down a copy of the official pink document, hand-written in a black, spidery, barely legible scrawl.

It indicates the name 'Ronald Samuel Best' was initially registered on May 27, five days after his birth, but subsequently changed to one single name, 'George'.

Under the heading 'Baptismal Name if added after Registration of birth and Date', the Registrar has penned: "George (on form for altering name) 6th June 1946" on the certificate. It's a curious revelation, and one that remains, to this day, a source of confusion for the Best family.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Best's brother-in-law Norman McNarry, who is married to the late footballer's 62-year-old sister Barbara, said they have no idea how George began life as Ronald Samuel.

"Barbara hasn't a clue about the name change on the birth certificate and she doesn't think anyone can explain how it happened. It's a grey area as far as we're concerned," he said.

Belfast's most famous footballing son - or 'Bestie' as he was affectionately known to millions - became an icon at Manchester United before a chronic alcohol addiction brought a premature end to his glittering career.

With both parents deceased, there's no one Best's five siblings can ask about the truth behind that birth certificate.

Mr McNarry (66) said they could only speculate that it was down to human error at the time.

"We can only assume that it was a misprint, or that a mistake has been made and later rectified," he said. "Maybe the registrar of births got it slightly wrong and then changed it after Barbara's dad pointed it out and said he was called George."

Best, whose family home was in Burren Way in east Belfast's Cregagh estate, was the eldest of six children and one of the first global football superstars.

His mesmeric skills and smouldering good looks soon proved an explosive combination, however, and the alcohol he used, initially to cure his boyhood shyness and later to fuel an increasingly hedonistic lifestyle, ultimately took its toll.

He died in hospital, aged 59, on November 25, 2005. Cause of death was multiple organ failure brought on by a kidney infection, a side-effect of the immuno-suppressive drugs he was required to take following a liver transplant.

After one of the biggest funerals the country has seen, Best was buried at Belfast's Roselawn Cemetery beside his mother Anne, an ex-cigarette factory employee who died in 1978, aged just 55, from heart-related problems thought to have been triggered by her own alcohol addiction.

Dickie Best, a former iron turner in the local shipyard, was later laid to rest in the same plot after he passed away in April 2008.

Belfast Telegraph

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