Leon Julian Best (born 19 September 1986 in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire) is an English born Irish footballer who plays as a striker for Coventry City.
Best was an Ireland under-21 international.
As a young player, Best started his career at Notts County before being signed as a trainee by then Premiership club Southampton. He made his professional debut against Newcastle United on his 18th birthday in 2004. A loan spell at Queens Park Rangers followed later in the 2004-05 season.
He was a member of Southampton's youth team that reached the final of the FA Youth Cup in 2005, losing on aggregate to Ipswich Town.
Best also had two loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday in the 2005-06 season, scoring his first professional goal and Wednesday's first of the season on 9 August 2005 at Hillsborough against Hull City. The first loan spell was cut short in the same match when Best broke his foot and returned to St. Mary's after only 5 days in Sheffield. After recovering with Southampton, Best then returned to Hillsborough at the end of the January transfer window (though there was also speculation he would go to Crystal Palace) where he remained until the end of the season, scoring Wednesday's last goal of the season at Derby County on 30 April 2006.
On 3 August 2006 Best joined Football League One club Bournemouth on a month-long loan deal with an option to extend his stay.He returned to Southampton at the end of October at the end of the maximum 3 month loan spell, having made 15 league appearances, scoring 3 goals.
On 23 November 2006, he joined his team-mate Martin Cranie on loan to Yeovil Town until 22 February 2007.
After his successful loan spells, Best returned to play an important role in guiding Southampton to the Championship play-offs, where the Saints faced Derby County. He came on as a substitute in the first leg at St Marys, but could not prevent Southampton losing 2-1, with Derby striker Steve Howard scoring both of the goals for the away side.
In the deciding second leg, with a visit to the new Wembley Stadium awaiting the winners, Best started for Saints up front alongside prolific on-loan striker Marek Saganowski, and played a vital role in many of the attacks that Southampton delivered in their search for goals. In one move, Best showed superb ball control and vision to release Jhon Viafara, who scored the goal that made the score on the night 2-1 to Southampton (3-3 on aggregate, and Viafara's second goal of the night). However, an unfortunate own goal from Best himself put Derby back in front, and although Southampton sent the game into Extra Time with a late goal from Polish and former Derby striker Grzegorz Rasiak, Southampton lost 4-3 in a penalty shootout, with Best missing the opening penalty, sending the ball wide of the goalkeeper Stephen Bywater's left post.
On 5 July 2007, he joined Coventry City for a fee of £650,000 decided by a tribunal, with the fee increasing were Coventry to gain promotion to the Premiership by 2010. Following a cheekbone fracture at the end of 2008, Best took his place in the team wearing a protective mask. His return led him scoring three goals in successive matches and consequently gaining a reputation for wearing a "Besty" mask, even after he had recovered from his injury and earning the nickname "Zorro". His distinctive mask became somewhat of a talisman for Coventry City fans, many of whom took to wearing similar masks in the stands as a tribute to Best.
On 18 May 2009, Best was called up to the Republic of Ireland squad for the first time for the games against Nigeria and then the World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria.