Review of George Best – All by Himself, ESPN’s 30 For 30 soccer masterpiece
In the period of Best’s decline, Gordon has brilliantly woven in audio from Sir Matt Busby. The legendary Manchester United manager created a side built around Best’s talents and the veteran presence of those Busby Babes that survived Munich. But by the time Busby was moving on from management, Best’s lifestyle had taken a dramatic turn for the worse.
His move to the United States after his temporary retirement at 29 and subsequent return to the field (and bottle) is chronicled in great detail. A particularly rich moment of the film features beIN Sports’ Ray Hudson who captained the Fort Lauderdale Strikers narrating us through Best’s greatest goal ever – a solo effort for the San Jose Earthquakes in 1981 against Hudson’s Strikers, which were one of Best’s former teams. Best played for 19 teams in all. Once he was finally done playing, he suffered several high-profile public embarrassments.
Impressively, if it was important in Best’s playing career or life, Gordon and his team found clips to include in the film. The use of original footage and constant storytelling from those who knew and most importantly understood Best’s personality, brilliance and self-destructive nature makes this not only a must watch, but likely a must-have in DVD or digital form for any fan of the sport.
It’s important soccer fans embrace this film as ESPN has not aired a new 30 for 30 about soccer since the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the final edition of the tournament to be aired on the network. Every documentary ESPN has previously aired about soccer has been released around the time of a World Cup, whether it was Once in a Lifetime in 2006, The Two Escobars in 2010 and a number of films in 2014.
This film could prove a breakthrough for soccer in the award winning 30 for 30 series. I can’t think of a better film that could be aired to break the glass ceiling.
‘George Best – All by Himself’ will premiere on ESPN on Thursday, July 20 at 8:30pm ET.