George Best Middlesbrough shirt goes on display

Jim Platt with George Best shirt
Image caption George Best played for Boro in a testimonial match for Jim Platt

A Middlesbrough FC shirt, signed and worn by football legend George Best, has gone on display on Teesside.

George Best's shirt is a nostalgic reminder of a night in September 1981 when Best turned out for Boro against Sunderland at Ayresome Park in a testimonial match for his Northern Ireland team-mate Jim Platt, the club's long-serving goalkeeper.

Platt remembers: "We weren't quite sure whether he was going to show up or not, because he was in a period when he wasn't on his best behaviour, shall we say.

"On his day, George was possibly the best player in the world.

"I think he played in more testimonial matches than anyone because everybody wanted him, he was a crowd puller."

The shirt is being exhibited as part of the Back from the Brink exhibition, part-funded by a £42,900 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, which focuses on 1986 and the year Middlesbrough nearly folded.

Image caption Boro manager Tony Mowbray launched the three-month-long exhibition in January

Football fan Paul Barry was given the shirt by then Boro physio Lew Clayton just days after Platt's testimonial in 1981.

Mr Barry said: "The shirt is a complete one-off, never to be repeated. As a lifelong Manchester United fan, as well as Boro, I loved George Best for the wonderful way he played football."

After displaying the shirt in a shop window, Mr Barry decided "it was best kept under lock and key when George died a few years ago as it became such a collector's item since he died".

Best died in 2005 after a career which saw him make 466 appearances for Manchester United, scoring a total of 178 goals.

The free exhibition at the Dorman Museum has already attracted 13,000 visitors and will be open until 15 April.

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