Born on February 24th, 1951 in Somerset, Bermuda, Clyde Cyril Best, also known as “Bunny,” was one of the first black footballers to play in Britain and the first to establish himself in England’s top flight.

Best began his football career in Bermuda with the Ireland Rangers as a young teenager, but was later transferred to his hometown Somerset Trojans after voicing displeasure with his lack of playing time for Rangers. He was called up to the Bermudian national team and earned his first cap in 1966 at the age of 15, where he caught the eye of many big clubs around the world.

On August 25, 1969, at the age of 18, Best made his debut for English first division team West Ham United against Arsenal in a 1-1 draw at Upton Park. Best went on to become a regular in the squad, making 218 appearances and scoring 58 goals over the seven seasons he played for the club.

Best was an imposing figure up front for The Hammers with fantastic aerial ability and deceptive quickness. He played the role of a traditional English striker, holding up the ball and keeping possession for his squad.

As one of the first black footballers in Britain, and the only one on his West Ham United squad, the football journey was not an easy one for the Bermudian. Often receiving racial abuse from fans at away matches as well as at Upton Park, he faced challenges both on and off the pitch. 

In one instance, Best received a letter from a fan the night before an away match, threatening to throw acid in his face as he entered the pitch the following day. Fans started monkey chants, and even threw bananas and peanuts on the pitch in acts of racial heckling. It was an everyday struggle for Best, but he maintained amazing poise under harsh conditions.  Eventually after years of success for The Hammers, the racial taunting waned from the hometown fans, who began to respect his quality of play and persistent attitude.

After seven seasons at Upton Park, Best continued his career with a number of teams both in Europe and the United States. He played for Feyenoord of the Dutch Eredivisie as well as the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Portland Timbers, and Toronto Blizzard of the North American Soccer League (NASL).
In 1997, Clyde Best became the coach of the Bermudian national team and remained so until 1999. 
In 2004, he was inducted into the Bermuda National Sports Hall of Fame and in 2009 was awarded the “Caribbean Awards Sports Icon” award in the football category.

Clyde Best helped pave the way for the modern black footballer. His skill was undeniable, but it was his perseverance through the toughest of times that transcended football. Best was an icon of his generation and gave many young black footballers a role model at the highest level.

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