Regarded by many as one of the greatest athletes Bermuda has ever produced, Mr. Best is a local and international legend. He is also very well respected for his part in paving the way for black footballers in the UK.
His first Bermudian football club was the Ireland Rangers, but after an incident with the coach over his playing time, he transferred to the Somerset Trojans Club.
He received his first cap at the age of fifteen playing for the Bermudian national team, and eventually served as coach for the national team from 1997 to 1999.
He is most well known as playing as a striker for English first division team West Ham United, making his first team debut for West Ham in a 1–1 home draw against Arsenal on 25 August 1969. Mr. Best played 218 games scoring 58 goals for West Ham over 7 seasons between August 1969 and January 1976.
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At a time when overt racism was abundant, and as the only black player for West Ham, Mr. Best endured numerous racist incidents. He suffered through racist chanting while on the field, monkey chanting and the hurling of bananas and peanuts at the pitch. Mr. Best is now considered by many to be a trailblazer for black footballers in the UK.
Britain’s Echo News says:
When accolades for the great black sportsmen of the 20th century are handed out, Clyde Best deserves to be somewhere near the top of the list.
The Bermudan [sic] footballer arrived in East London at the tail end of the Sixties, trading sunshine and golden beaches for steaming hot servings of pie and mash with liquor – garnished with racial taunts from the terraces.
The new dawn of televised football made Clyde a role model for many black youngsters, as his net-busting exploits for the Hammers were beamed into living rooms around the country.
However, it was far from easy. Adored by the West Ham fans, the centre forward suffered constant racial heckling from opposition fans – monkey chanting and the hurling of bananas and peanuts at the pitch.
After playing for West Ham, Mr. Best also played for Feyenoord in the Dutch Eredivisie as well as the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Toronto Blizzard and Portland Timbers of the North American Soccer League. He was also an assistant coach for the San Diego Sockers for a brief period in the early 1990′s.
Nicknamed “Bunny”, he was inducted into the Bermuda National Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, awarded an MBE in the January 2006 New Year’s Honours list for services to football and the community in Bermuda and won the 2009 “Caribbean Awards Sports Icon” in the football category.
In February 2012, Mr Best was featured in a CNN special report on racism in football “World Sport Presents: It’s Not Black & White.|
Mr Best has also written a column — “Beautiful Game’ can transcend society’s ills” –that appears on CNN, with the byline describing him as “one of the first black players to establish himself in England, and is featured in a photo gallery titled “Clyde Best: Football Legend”
The CNN special — “World Sport Presents: It’s Not Black & White” — aired yesterday afternoon, and will air again today at 10pm, on Sunday at 7am, and at Monday 4am.
In the report Mr Best said, “They started what we call the ‘monkey chant’…you knew that was directed at you, because I am the only black fellow on the field.”
“One of the instances that will always stick in my mind,” said Mr Best. “I got a letter in the mail one day, and we were playing at home, I can’t remember the particular team, but the letter stated that I when I came through the tunnel they were going to throw acid in my face.”
“It was hard, it was tough. And I found most times the best way to silence most of the people was to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Mr Best.