Wednesday 20 November 2019

There's only one Ronald Samuel Best...

George Best
George Best
George Best in his Manchester United heyday

Claire McNeilly

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

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.

A copy of the official pink document, hand-written in a black, barely legible scrawl, indicates the name 'Ronald Samuel Best' was initially registered on May 27, five days after his birth in Belfast, 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.

Best's brother-in-law, Norman McNarry, who is married to the late footballer's sister Barbara (62), 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.

'Bestie', as he was affectionately known, became an icon at Manchester United before his chronic alcohol addiction brought a premature end to his glittering career.

With both his mother and father now dead, there's no one for Best's five siblings to ask about the 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 died in hospital, aged 59, on November 25, 2005.

Irish Independent

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