Belfast Telegraph

Ronald Samuel name was 'too much of mouthful' for George Best

By Claire McNeilly

The mystery of George Best's birth name has been solved - thanks to the Belfast Telegraph.

Earlier this week we exclusively revealed that the Northern Ireland football legend was actually called Ronald Samuel... for the first 15 days of his life.

The remarkable discovery came after this newspaper obtained a copy of the star's birth certificate that showed he was given those Christian names when he was born on May 22, 1946.

He only became George Best - one of sport's most iconic and recognisable names - when he was baptised on June 6.

Best's brother-in-law Norman McNarry (66), who is married to the late footballer's 62-year-old sister Barbara, admitted that the family had no idea how the late Manchester United superstar began life as Ronald Samuel.

But now - after speaking to Best's former agent Phil Hughes - we can reveal that his parents decided to rename him because they thought their original choice was "too much of a mouthful".

It has also emerged that, in the end, George was named after a relative on his mother Anne's side.

"I was with George when his father showed him his birth certificate," Phil said.

"Dickie told him that they were originally going to call him Ronald Samuel but, after a few days, he and George's mother came to the conclusion that it was too much of a mouthful so they decided to call him after a family member on his mother's side instead."

Mr Hughes (55), who was Best's agent for 20 years up until the former footballer died 10 years ago, said the conversation took place at the family home in Burren Way, in east Belfast's Cregagh estate, in 1994.

And he added that Bestie - as he was affectionately known to millions - gave the name change an emphatic thumbs-up.

"George thought it was funny, or maybe even a bit strange, that he could've called something else but he was glad he wasn't," said Mr Hughes. "He was mad about crosswords and he loved the fact that the anagram for his name - which he came up with himself - was 'Go Get Beers'.

"Had his original name stuck, he would've had to have found a new anagram for himself, and he said he couldn't come up with anything as good for Ronald Samuel Best.

"Although I have to admit he worked on it for quite while!"

Belfast's most famous footballing son passed away in hospital, aged 59, on November 25, 2005, following a lengthy, well-publicised alcohol addiction. He died from multiple organ failure as a result of 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 Northern Ireland has seen, Best was buried at Belfast's Roselawn Cemetery beside his mother, who died in 1978 aged just 55 from heart-related problems thought to have been triggered by her own alcohol addiction.

Dickie Best was later laid to rest in the same plot after he passed away in April 2008.

Belfast Telegraph


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