Charlie George is a fairytale figure for Arsenal fans. Signing for Arsenal and scoring a spectacular winning goal in the FA Cup final is every young Gunner's dream. For most fans this is the point where they wake up; not Charlie George. Born and raised in North London, George went from cheering his team on from the terraces to running out for them at Highbury. His career reads like a Roy of the Rovers comic strip.
The highpoint must undoubtedly be the 1971 FA Cup final. George had already scored in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds by the time Arsenal met Liverpool in a classic encounter at Wembley. After 90 minutes the game was goalless but just two minutes into extra time Liverpool were ahead through Steve Heighway. Nine minutes later Eddie Kelly started what would be a remarkable Arsenal comeback.
With eight minutes to go the game looked destined for a draw with both players dead on their feet until George, Arsenal's long-haired talisman, stepped up. John Radford squared the ball just outside the box and George took a touch to steady himself before lashing a thunderbolt of a shot past Ray Clemence in the Liverpool goal. George's celebration is almost as famous as the goal itself as the striker dropped to the floor in exhaustion and lay flat on his back as his team-mates celebrated. It remains one of the lasting images in Arsenal's history as well as the history of the FA Cup.
Not only did that goal win the Cup for Arsenal, it also confirmed them as double winners, as they had already clinched the first division title. It was the first time the club had achieved the feat and even more vital as their rivals Tottenham had done the same ten years earlier. George was back at Wembley again the following season, but unfortunately Arsenal could not repeat the trick against a determined Leeds side and lost 1-0.
Always a controversial figure, George had his run-ins with the game's authorities, but his supporters loved him no less for it. Sadly for George, he never got the chance to fulfil his potential on the international stage and the hour he played for England against the Republic of Ireland in 1976 was to be his only cap. A disagreement with then boss Don Revie about being told to play on the left wing led to his substitution and a falling out with the England set-up.
George spent seven years at Highbury, scoring 49 goals and winning the Fairs Cup in 1970 as well as the double in 1971. He moved on to Derby after leaving the Gunners in 1975 and had spells playing in Australia and the USA before hanging up his boots in 1983. To this day he is regarded by Arsenal fans as the local boy who became a legend.