Boyd started his career in the Charlton Athletic youth system, joining Stevenage Borough of the Conference National in 2001 and making his first-team debut in 2002. Boyd spent five seasons at Stevenage, scoring over thirty goals from midfield in all competitions. He left in January 2007 to join League Two side Peterborough United for a fee of £260,000, and won two successive promotions in the 2007–08 and 2008–09 seasons. In March 2010, Boyd joined Nottingham Forest on loan until the end of the 2009–10 season. On return to his parent club in July 2010, Boyd signed a new three-year contract at Peterborough. In February 2013, Boyd joined Hull City on loan for the remainder of the 2012–13 season, and he helped the club earn promotion back to the Premier League during his time there. Shortly after the end of the season, he signed for the club on a permanent basis.
He also played for the England National Game XI team, who represent England at non-League level, from 2005 to 2006, earning six caps and scoring one goal. Boyd was born and raised in England, and also qualified to play for Scotland through his maternal grandfather. After playing for the Scotland B team in 2009, he earned his first cap at senior level in 2013.
Born in Chatham, Kent, Boyd started his career as a part of Charlton Athletic's youth system at the age of 15. A year later he was released by Charlton, and opted to join Conference National side Stevenage Borough in 2001. Boyd made his Stevenage debut at just 17 years of age during the 2002–03 season, featuring in a 3–1 defeat against Margate at Broadhall Way, although he was substituted at half–time. Despite appearing on the bench frequently, Boyd did not play again in the first-team the same season. The following season, Boyd played eleven times during the second half of the season under new manager Graham Westley, after impressing him during Boyd's involvement in the FA Youth Cup. Boyd made a big impact despite appearing as a substitute in the majority of the matches, assisting all three of Stevenage's goals in a 3–1 victory over Tamworth, and scoring his first Stevenage goal in a 2–1 win against Northwich Victoria in April 2004.
As a result of his form towards the latter stages of the 2003–04, Boyd was a regular in the first team the following season, playing 37 matches and scoring three times as Stevenage made the play-offs. His first goal of the club's 2004–05 campaign came in a 4–1 victory against Northwich Victoria, netting Stevenage's second just before half–time. Boyd's second goal of the season came in Stevenage's 5–0 win against Hendon, and scored his final goal of the 2004–05 campaign as Stevenage came from a goal down to beat Carlisle United at Broadhall Way. Boyd was also sent–off for the first time in his career in a match against Canvey Island, receiving a straight red. During the side's 2005–06 campaign, Boyd found his goalscoring form, starting the season with three goals in five games, scoring twice against Woking in a 3–2 defeat, and once against Tamworth. Boyd also scored in games against Dagenham & Redbridge and Exeter City respectively, as well as scoring a goal from 25 yards in Stevenage's 2–0 win against Gravesend & Northfleet at Stonebridge Road. He also impressed in Stevenage's FA Cup run the same season, scoring a 30-yard effort away at Kettering Town in Paul Gascoigne's first match as manager of the Northamptonshire outfit, and netted in the following round in a 2–2 draw against Northampton Town. He signed a new three-year contract at the club in November 2005. Throughout the season, Boyd scored 12 times in 47 matches from midfield in all competitions.
Under the new management of Mark Stimson ahead of the 2006–07 season, Boyd was deployed as a striker for the first time in a 2–1 defeat away at Tamworth, a match in which he scored Stevenage's solitary goal. The following match, he scored his first competitive hat-trick in a 6–0 win against Stafford Rangers. Boyd scored four goals in a 7–0 victory over Merthyr Tydfil in the FA Trophy. He also scored in victories against Halifax Town and Kidderminster Harriers, as well as netting in Stevenage's 3–2 win against St Albans City. He also provided the assist for the only goal of the match in Stevenage's 1–0 win against Weymouth. In December 2006, Stevenage turned down an initial offer from Peterborough United for Boyd, but on 31 December both parties agreed a deal for the player and it was announced that Boyd would officially sign for Peterborough on 8 January 2007 for a record Football Conference transfer fee of £260,000. Subsequently, he played his last match for Stevenage a day later in a 3–2 win over Aldershot Town, scoring twice. During the first half of the 2006–07 season, Boyd scored 15 goals in 27 matches in all competitions. During his time at Stevenage, Boyd earned the nickname "The White Pelé" – a nickname that has been used by fans and media since.
Boyd made his debut for Peterborough in a 3–1 defeat away at Darlington in January 2007, and scored his first goal for the club a month later in a 3–0 win against Wrexham. He came off the bench to score Peterborough's equaliser in a 1–1 draw at home to Boston United, scoring a "superb 35-yard volley". He netted once more in a 2–0 win against Notts County, as well as creating Peterborough's second for Craig Morgan. Boyd scored his fourth goal of the season, scoring from just inside the area to give the lead away at Grimsby Town in March 2007. He scored a total of six times for the club during the second half of the 2006–07 season, playing 20 matches – including two goals on the final day of the season in a 3–3 draw with Rochdale. The following year, Boyd was instrumental in helping Peterborough to promotion to League One, scoring 15 times in 53 matches. During the season, he scored his second professional hat–trick in an 8–2 win against Accrington Stanley. As a result, he was named in the League Two 2008 PFA Team of the Year.
Boyd scored his first goal of the 2008–09 season in Peterborough's 2–1 loss at Bristol City. He scored again two weeks later against Hartlepool United in another 2–1 defeat, scoring Peterborough's consolation goal with a "smart finish". Boyd's third goal of the campaign came in a 1–1 draw away at Northampton Town, "finishing superbly" to give Peterborough the lead after fifteen minutes. In October 2008, Boyd netted his fourth goal of the 2008–09 season, scoring just after half-time in a 2–0 victory against Leeds United. He scored one and assisted two other goals in Peterborough's 4–0 win against Huddersfield Town, as well as providing the assist for Craig Mackail-Smith's goal against Hereford United. His sixth goal of the season came in Peterborough's 2–1 home win against Colchester United, Boyd scoring "clinically into the bottom corner from 12 yards". In the same match, he "carved open the defence on a number of occasions", and once again provided the assist for Mackail-Smith's goal. Boyd scored one and set-up another as Peterborough beat Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road in December 2008, Boyd's goal came in the third minute of the match. A month later, he scored twice in a 4–2 win against Crewe Alexandra, and was described as "the two-goal hero" following the match – as Boyd's two goals proved to be the difference. He provided assists in matches against Yeovil Town and Hereford United respectively, and scored his last goal of the season in a 2–1 away win at Hartlepool United. Boyd ended the season by providing two assists in Peterborough's final two matches of the campaign. He scored ten times in 53 matches in all competitions, ensuring the club earned back–to–back promotions. Boyd was named in the League One 2009 PFA Team of the Year for the second successive year.
Boyd played in Peterborough's first match of the 2009–10 season, scoring from the penalty spot in a 2–1 defeat to Derby County at Pride Park. Three days later, Boyd netted Peterborough's third in the club's 4–0 away win at Wycombe Wanderers. He scored his third goal of the campaign in a 2–1 home win against Ipswich Town, as well as scoring in the club's 1–1 draw at Leicester City. His sixth of the season came in Peterborough's 3–2 home victory over Reading, with Boyd scoring the club's third goal with a backheel in injury-time. In October 2009, Boyd made a club record-equalling 124th consecutive appearance, scoring a last minute equaliser against Bristol City at Ashton Gate. He subsequently broke the record three days later in a match against Doncaster Rovers, before scoring twice in the following match against Scunthorpe United. He continued his goalscoring form throughout October with a goal at Ewood Park, scoring his third goal in Peterborough's League Cup campaign in a 5–2 defeat against Premier League team Blackburn Rovers. The following week, Boyd scored in a 2–1 defeat at home to Barnsley, as well as netting in a 2–2 draw against Middlesbrough shortly after. He assisted both of Peterborough's goals in a 2–1 victory at home to Watford. Boyd also scored in Peterborough's 4–4 draw against Cardiff City, scoring Peterborough's third goal as the club came back from four goals down to earn a point. Upon Mark Cooper's arrival as manager, Boyd was made team captain in January 2010. In February 2010, it was announced that Peterborough rejected a bid for Boyd from fellow Championship side Middlesbrough in the January transfer window. The following day, Peterborough United director of football Barry Fry confirmed that Middlesbrough were in talks over Boyd, although talks broke down after the two clubs failed to agree a fee for the player. Boyd scored a total of 12 times in 37 appearances during the 2009–10 season.
In March 2010, Boyd joined Championship side Nottingham Forest on loan until the end of the 2009–10 season, despite initially saying he was happy to stay at Peterborough. Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony described the transfer as "one of the worst moments in his time at London Road". Boyd made his debut for Forest in a 1–0 victory over Swansea City, playing the whole match. He struggled for first-team appearances during his loan spell at Forest, and although it was expected that Boyd's move to Forest was to be made permanent in the summer, new Peterborough United manager Gary Johnson suggested "there's every chance" that Boyd could return to his parent club. Boyd made Forest's starting eleven for the first time in almost a month on the last day of the club's regular season; playing in a 2–2 draw away at Scunthorpe United and scoring Forest's second goal. It was to be Boyd's last appearance of the season for Forest, as he did not play in the club's unsuccessful play-off campaign. In total, Boyd only made six appearances during his time at the club, scoring one goal.
Boyd returned to his parent club ahead of the 2010–11 season, with Peterborough plying their trade in League One following the club's relegation from the Championship the previous season. In July 2010 it was announced that Boyd had agreed a new three–year contract with Peterborough. On agreeing the new contract, Boyd said "I firmly believe this club is going places and I want to be a part of that". He scored in Peterborough's first match of the 2010–11 season, a 3–0 win against Bristol Rovers. He scored his second goal of the season in the club's following match, netting Peterborough's second in a 4–1 League Cup first round victory against Rotherham United. Boyd scored his third goal in four matches in the club's win against Huddersfield Town, as Peterborough came from two goals down to win 4–2. Three days later, Boyd scored the winner in Peterborough's 2–1 League Cup win against Cardiff City, as well as providing the assist for the first goal. He scored his fifth goal of the season in a 5–2 win against Oldham Athletic, scoring Peterborough's third as the club came from two goals down to record three points.
Boyd scored his sixth goal of the 2010–11 campaign in Peterborough's 5–4 win against Swindon Town in October 2010. Two weeks later, Boyd was sent-off for violent conduct in a 3–0 home loss to league leaders Brighton & Hove Albion, only the second time he had been red carded in his career. He returned to first-team action on 16 November 2010, playing in the club's 4–1 FA Cup win over Stockport County. Boyd had to wait four months for his next goal, scoring twice against Sheffield Wednesday on 1 February 2011. He went on to score five goals in five matches throughout February and March, scoring once against Colchester United. This goal was followed by braces against Exeter City and Carlisle United respectively, although Boyd missed the chance to complete his hat-trick in the latter match when he missed a 90th-minute penalty. Three days later, on 15 March 2011, Boyd scored twice against Sheffield Wednesday in a 4–1 victory at Hillsborough. He made it eight goals in eight matches when he scored in Peterborough's 2–2 away draw at Bristol Rovers. He took his goal tally to 17 for the season when he scored Peterborough's third goal in a 5–0 home win against Dagenham & Redbridge on 7 May 2011. Boyd played in all three of Peterborough's play-off fixtures, playing the whole match in the 2011 League One play-off Final at Old Trafford as Peterborough beat Huddersfield Town 3–0 to earn promotion back to the Championship. During the club's successful 2010–11 campaign, Boyd scored 17 goals in 51 appearances.
In the summer of 2011, Peterborough rejected two bids for Boyd from Burnley. He played in the club's first match of the 2011–12 season, playing the whole match as Peterborough secured a 2–1 victory over Crystal Palace on their return to the second tier of English football. Boyd scored his first goal of the new season just three days later, on 9 August 2011, netting a curling free-kick in extra-time in an eventual 4–3 League Cup victory against his former club, Stevenage. This was followed by two further goals away from London Road, in matches against Blackpool and Bristol City respectively. Boyd scored a rare headed goal in Peterborough's 4–3 home victory against Cardiff City in October 2011, a match in which they scored twice late-on to win the match. He added a fifth to his goal tally for the season in a home loss to Barnsley on 3 December, scoring Peterborough's first goal as they came from three goals down to tie the match at three-all, although ultimately went on to lose 4–3. His sixth goal of the campaign came in a 1–0 away win against Nottingham Forest, where Boyd had previously spent time on loan at, netting with a curling effort from 18-yards. He went on to score two further goals during the campaign, taking his end goal tally for the season to eight, making 48 appearances in all competitions as Peterborough consolidated their place in the Championship.
In April 2012, Boyd rejected a contract extension at Peterborough with only a year to go on his current deal. Consequently, manager Darren Ferguson placed Boyd on the transfer list as part of the club's new policy. Boyd remained transfer-listed for the remainder of his time at Peterborough. Despite this, he continued to play regularly, opening the 2012–13 season by scoring two goals in his first three appearances. In October 2012, Boyd scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season in a 3–1 home win over Huddersfield Town. His second goal during the match was a dipping volley from just inside the Huddersfield half, a goal that was described as "world-class".
In January 2013, Peterborough rejected a bid from Nottingham Forest for Boyd, an offer that club chairman Darragh MacAnthony described as "derisory". MacAnthony also stated that Premier League club Reading, as well as Championship rivals Crystal Palace and Millwall had "made enquiries". He later stated that eight clubs had enquired about the player. Towards the end of the 2013 January transfer window, on 29 January, it was announced that Peterborough had accepted an offer for Boyd from fellow Championship side Crystal Palace. A day later, several other Championship sides had improved bids accepted for the player, including Nottingham Forest, who had already had bids rejected for the player earlier in the month and eventually met Peterborough's £500,000 valuation. Boyd opted to speak to Forest and agreed terms with them on 31 January, only for Forest to pull out of the deal two hours before the transfer deadline, saying that Boyd had failed a medical due to an "inconclusive eye test".
Peterborough's Director of football Barry Fry criticised Nottingham Forest's owners for pulling out of the deal to sign Boyd, and chairman MacAnthony said, "I'm devastated for George. I got a phone call off him in bits... He said that he passed the medical then they made him do an eye test. He's played 300 matches and scored from the halfway line the other month, but Forest say he has an eyesight problem. The whole thing stinks. Alex McLeish wanted to sign him. It's the most ridiculous thing that's happened to me." Peterborough subsequently said that with Boyd's contract expiring in the summer, they would be prepared to offer him a new contract or let him leave on loan when the emergency loan window opened, with at least one club having signalled their interest in doing so.
In February 2013, Boyd joined Championship side Hull City on loan until the end of the 2012–13 season, with a view to a permanent move. He made his debut two days after signing, on 23 February, coming on as a second-half substitute for Robert Koren in a 4–1 away defeat to Bolton Wanderers. Boyd's full debut came at home in the following match a week later, as he scored twice in a 5–2 victory over Birmingham City. After the performance, Hull manager Steve Bruce stated — "It was a wonder show. His work-rate and intelligence – he looked the real deal. I've always been a big admirer, but I didn't know he was that good. If he can keep performing like that then we've got some player on our hands". He scored in Hull's next match at the KC Stadium later that month, in a 2–1 loss to Nottingham Forest, who he failed a medical at in January, netting just before half-time when he flicked the ball over his shoulder with his back to goal. Boyd's fourth goal in six matches came on 30 March, scoring the only goal of the match as Hull secured a 1–0 away victory over Huddersfield Town, an inch perfect ball played through by Jay Simpson found Boyd on the edge of the box, who clinically fired a first time strike into the keepers' top left corner. He played regularly for the remainder of the campaign, including in Hull's 2–2 home draw with Cardiff City on the last day of the season, the match that ultimately secured the club's promotion back to the Premier League. During his loan spell, Boyd made thirteen appearances and scored four times.
He signed for Hull on a permanent basis on 28 May 2013, joining on a two-year contract. He made his debut on the first day of the 2013–14 season when he came off the bench in a 2–0 loss away at Chelsea. On 17 May 2014 he played as a substitute in the 2014 FA Cup Final against Arsenal. This resulted in Hull qualifying for the 2014–15 UEFA Europa League, in their first major European competition. Boyd made his European début in the first leg of the play-off round match against K.S.C. Lokeren Oost-Vlaanderen.
On 1 September 2014, Burnley signed Boyd on a three-year deal. On 18 October Boyd scored his first Premier League goal in a losing effort against West Ham United F.C. in a 3–1 defeat for the clarets. On 2 December Boyd scored his second league goal of the season in a 1–1 draw with Newcastle. On 28 December Boyd scored the opening goal for Burnley in a 2–2 draw over Manchester City. On 1 January 2015 Boyd scored the equaliser in the 86th minute in a 3–3 draw over Newcastle. On 14 March Boyd scored the winner against Manchester City in the 61st minute. Boyd made his 100th league appearance for the club in a dramatic 2–1 defeat to Arsenal.
Boyd left Burnley at the end of the 2016–17 season.
On 3 July 2017, Boyd signed for Sheffield Wednesday signing a two-year deal until 2019.
Boyd was called up for the England C team in October 2005 and played in a European Challenge Trophy match against Belgium U23. He subsequently played in two more matches in the same competition. He played against Italy in February 2006. He then scored his first goal for England C in a 4–1 win against a Holland XI in November 2006 in the final match of the competition. Boyd made a further four appearances for Paul Fairclough's side at the end of the 2006–07 campaign, before his subsequent move to Peterborough made him ineligible to play in England C matches.
In April 2009, Boyd was called up for the Scotland B side, after obtaining documentary proof that his maternal grandfather was born in Glasgow. Boyd started and subsequently scored in a 3–0 victory against a Northern Ireland B side, scoring the second goal of the match, giving a performance described as containing "flair and commitment".
Boyd received his first call-up to the senior side in March 2013, when he was named in manager Gordon Strachan's squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Wales and Serbia. Although he did not make the substitutes' bench in Scotland's 2–1 home loss to Wales, he earned his first senior cap just four days later in a 2–0 away defeat to Serbia on 26 March 2013. Boyd started the match, playing the whole match at the Karađorđe Stadium in Novi Sad.
Boyd is generally deployed as a winger, and has been used on the left-wing throughout the majority of his career. He has described himself as a winger, but has stated that he prefers to play "in the hole" because the position allows him to get more time on the ball. He has expressed his willingness to "play anywhere" to help the team, believing his versatility across the midfield and attacking areas to be one of his main strong-points. He said "I have played on both sides of the park and will always try my best to do a good job regardless of where the manager plays me". Under former Peterborough United manager, Jim Gannon, Boyd was given a "free-role", essentially playing across the midfield and behind the strikers. Gannon said "if we can get him free in attacking areas he can be a great creative force". Gannon believes that Boyd is at his best when he "is saved from doing defensive work that wingers may have to do", and as a result, during Gannon's short spell at Peterborough, was deployed just behind the strikers as part of a 3–4–1–2 formation. Boyd has also been used as a striker by manager Mark Stimson during the first half of Stevenage's 2006–07 campaign. He is predominantly left-footed, and scores the majority of his goals with his left-foot, but is also comfortable using his right. Kieran Trippier, Boyd's teammate at Burnley, said of Boyd: "He's great to play with, with a good left foot and a great engine".
During his time at Stevenage, Boyd earned the nickname "The White Pelé" – this was down to his use of tricks, as well as the amount of flair Boyd brought to the team at such a young age. Stevenage manager Graham Westley, who gave Boyd his first run of matches in the first-team, described Boyd as a "special talent" following his two goals away at Woking in August 2005. Westley proceeded to call Boyd "gifted", and a player with "fantastic technical ability". He has been labelled a creative and flamboyant midfielder, and described as "a player who will create goalscoring opportunities all game long". Boyd has stated that he considers assisting goals a "big part of his game", and says "I try to create chances for other players and that gives me just as much pleasure as scoring". Boyd's creative nature is emphasised by the fact that he has assisted over 50 goals for Peterborough during his time at London Road. Peterborough United manager Darren Ferguson has said that Boyd "has the tendency, and ability, to score goals from long distance", talking after Boyd's 35-yard volley against Boston United. This was further highlighted when Boyd scored from just inside the opposition's half in a win against Huddersfield Town in October 2012. Boyd collected a Saido Berahino knock-down, before hitting a dipping volley from the edge of the centre circle. Manager Darren Ferguson stated — "If Lionel Messi had done it you'd be seeing it over again. For vision and execution it was one of the best I have seen". Boyd also scored several long range goals during his time at Stevenage, scoring from outside the area on seven different occasions; most notably on the half-volley from 30 yards in a match against Cambridge United in January 2006.
Boyd believes that he needs to work on his turn of pace and also improve his heading ability, and considers these as his main weaknesses. Former manager Darren Ferguson said "there might be those who say he lacks a little bit of pace but what he does not have in his legs he has in his head". In his career, Boyd has only ever scored three headed goals, and says that he is much more comfortable with the ball at his feet.
Boyd grew up in Kent, and was "first interested in becoming a footballer when he used to play football with his Dad at the local park". After being rejected by Charlton Athletic at the age of 15, Boyd moved to Stevenage, combining a course at North Hertfordshire College with playing football at the Hertfordshire club. During this time, Boyd worked in a sweet shop at Hitchin railway station to earn the money for his train fare to training. Boyd supports Crystal Palace, who he used to watch regularly, and states that former Palace striker Chris Armstrong was a player he aspired to play like. Boyd has a daughter, Ava, whom his partner gave birth to in March 2011.As of match played 13 May 2017.
As of match played 28 May 2014.
League Two (1): 2007–08
League One (1): 2008–09
League One (1): 2010–11
Championship (1): 2012–13
BurnleyFootball League Championship Champions: 2015–16
PFA Team of the Year (2): 2007–08, 2008–09