It was an unlikely first meeting between lifelong football pals George Best and Mike Summerbee back in 1965.

Fed up with staying in his hotel after transferring to Manchester City from Swindon Town, Summerbee decided to go for a walk. He was only 19 at the time and bored.

He sauntered into the Kardomah coffee shop in St Ann’s Square and noticed a blonde girl sitting at one table and a young dark-haired man on his own at another.

It turned out to be George Best. He was only 22 and just back from Belfast. It turned out he was a little homesick.

Best man George Best at Mike Summerbee’s wedding to Tina Schofield, September 1968

Best man George Best at Mike Summerbee’s wedding to Tina Schofield, September 1968

Best was already famous as a Manchester United star, but Summerbee was just making his mark as a winger at City. He said hello and the two hit it off.

The pair holidayed together, opened shops together, partied together and once even played cricket together!

It was in 1968 at a testimonial match for Lancashire cricketer Ken Higgs. A City team including Summerbee triumphed over a United team with Best trying his arm at bowling.

Great friends off the pitch, the pair played to win when their two sides clashed in local derby games.

Denis Law, centre, at the opening of George Best’s boutique in Sale, March 1966

Denis Law, centre, at the opening of George Best’s boutique in Sale, March 1966

On one occasion, City manager Malcolm Allison told his team to man-mark Best as tightly as possible. But he scored after sixty seconds!

Summerbee turned to Allison and said: ‘Do we have a Plan B then?’

The two only played football for the same side on one occasion – at a charity game in Oldham. Apparently Best only passed to his pal once the whole match!

The players’ enduring friendship was captured by M.E.N. photographers throughout the 1960s.

George Best gate-crashes a Manchester City therapy session with Mike Summerbee, November 1969

George Best gate-crashes a Manchester City therapy session with Mike Summerbee, November 1969

In March 1966, Best opened a fashion boutique in Cross Street, Sale, and invited Summerbee to join him on the first day.

He not only came along himself, but also brought City manager Malcolm Allison. United footballers Shay Brennan, Denis Law and Paddy Crerand were there too.

The scene was almost repeated when Best opened another boutique with Summerbee in Manchester in September 1967.

This time, sharing the champagne with the enterprising duo was legendary City and England midfielder Colin Bell.

Footballers at the wedding of City player Matt Gray and Rita Simmons, May 1967

Footballers at the wedding of City player Matt Gray and Rita Simmons, May 1967

But perhaps the most unusual snap of the two was taken in November 1969 when the City team booked into a Manchester sauna for some therapy.

Best just happened to be in the baths when the City players arrived – and was quick to set up a picture for the press with his friend Summerbee on the massage table!

More conventionally, Best was the best man at Summerbee’s wedding to 20-year-old Tina Schofield at St Michael and All Angels Church in Mottram in September 1968.

The two pals were also present when City forward Matt Gray married 24-year-old model Rita Simmons at St Ann’s Church, Manchester, in May 1967.

Brian Kidd and Stan Bowles, both left, watch some park football in Moston, October 1967

Brian Kidd and Stan Bowles, both left, watch some park football in Moston, October 1967

City goalkeeper Harry Dowd was best man and the guests included City centre-half George Heslop.

Away from the spotlight, Best and Summerbee liked nothing better than watching Stockport County play every other Friday.

Although they were football superstars, no-one bothered them. They used to stand on the terraces and slip away 10 minutes before the end of each match.

Two soccer pals who also watched football together were City’s Stan Bowles and United’s Brian Kidd, both born in Collyhurst.

Bobby Charlton reunited with former West German captain Franz Beckenbauer, June 1982

Bobby Charlton reunited with former West German captain Franz Beckenbauer, June 1982

An M.E.N. photographer caught up with them one October morning in 1967 as they stood on the touchline of a Sunday match in Moston, where they both lived.

Both were booked by referee Kevin Hawley the day before when they clashed in the local Division One derby at Maine Road. United won 2-1.

Best struck up a friendship with flamboyant ex-City forward Rodney Marsh when both played for Fulham in 1976.

Marsh joined the London club on loan from Tampa Bay Rowdies while Best had been playing for Los Angeles Aztecs.

Rodney Marsh, right, with George Best when they both played for Fulham, September 1976

Rodney Marsh, right, with George Best when they both played for Fulham, September 1976

Although they were nearing the end of their playing careers, the two were still household names and often appeared on national TV.

The pair even joined comedian Freddie Starr in a send-up of the BBC sports programme Superstars. Our photo shows them sporting hats and smoking fake cigars with Freddie and former Newcastle and England striker Malcolm Macdonald.

Finally, two footballers with the greatest respect for each other as players were United and England midfielder Bobby Charlton and West German legend Franz Beckenbauer.

After many tussles down the years, the two greeted like long-lost brothers when they were reunited at the World Cup in Spain in June 1982.

Freddie Star, second left, with George Best, Rodney Marsh and Malcolm Macdonald, December 1976

Freddie Star, second left, with George Best, Rodney Marsh and Malcolm Macdonald, December 1976

Colin Bell, centre, at the opening of George Best’s new Manchester boutique, September 1967

Colin Bell, centre, at the opening of George Best’s new Manchester boutique, September 1967