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George Best R.I.P.


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Those NOTW pictures were disgraceful. I only hope that when the NOTW's editor is terminally ill in hospital, some cheap journo is waving a camera in his face and cajoling a dying man into 'approving' the publication of utterly humiliating photos.

There's a much nicer tribute on the back page of the Observer's sport section, recounting the time Best nutmegged Cruyff after earlier telling the Press box exactly what he was planning to do.

Not that he's dead yet. Is he?

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I lost a very close friend and colleague last month who went onto life support/ ventilation. The words being used- "lack of improvement is worrying" are bringing back bad memories.

If it comes to the worse, it will be fascinating to watch the reruns of Best in his pomp and to see how the game has changed.

Just as the footage of Brasil 1970 is still the most stunning football probably ever played and takes the breath away, I expect an hour of George Best will be as stunning. One fascinating aspect to watch for is that Best had exceptionally flexible ankles which enabled him to twist his boot to some extraordinary angles to his body. There is a goal against Sheffield United which illustrates that when he dribbles the ball across the box away from goal and smacked it in whilst still running towards the corner flag.

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George used to like telling the story of an incident in the 1970's, after he had left Man United, when a bellboy working at the hotel he was staying in, knocked on the door and brought breakfast into his luxury hotel room.

Seeing George in bed with a stunning Miss World beauty, sipping champagne together and with several thousand pounds of cash strewn across the floor of the room (which he won the previous night from gambling in a casino) , the errand boy said: "Mr Best, where did it all go wrong?"

George liked to chuckle at the story, but perhaps the sad reality is that it did indeed go wrong for Best from about the age of 26 onwards. He was one of the most naturally gifted players British football has seen, but many people will think of his career as being a tragic waste of talent.

if it is caused by the drink then it is about time the doctors refused to treat him and dedicated more time to those who actually give a toss about their own life and want to make it better.

A friend of mine that I was speaking to yesterday had the same opinion as yourself Blueboy, but personally I can't be that harsh.

Yes, George has been a fool at times, but we have to remember that alcoholism is an illness. It doesn't excuse their behaviour, but alcoholics are not like you and me - who are happy to have a couple of drinks and go home.

George was given a second chance in 2002 when he had a liver transplant, and for a year or so afterwards, he didn't touch a drop of alcohol. Sadly he then decided to press the self-destruct button and was back on the booze again.

I can understand the reaction of those who say: "It's his own fault. He's only got himself to blame." But I can't pontificate and condemn the man myself when he's lying on his death bed. I know that if I had a relative who was an alcoholic, I certainly wouldn't be telling the doctors not to treat him.

Should doctors not treat people who smoke? Should doctors refuse to treat people who like pie and chips and the odd bacon and egg fry-up?

In any case, I think George is being treated in a private hospital at the moment, so he's not costing the NHS anything. You could argue that he shouldn't have been given a liver transplant in 2002, but how do we know that if it had gone to somebody else, that person wouldn't have screwed things up as well?

A donation doesn't usually come with strings attached. Or do we have to make a moral judgment as to whether the recipient of donated organs has led a completely clean lifestyle ? What if the guy has taken illegal drugs. Should that rule him out ? Where do you draw the line ?

For a while it looked as if George had beaten his demons, but sadly he hasn't been able to stay sober. With chronic alcoholics, it's obviously a long-term illness.

I prefer to think of George, not in terms of that lurid and gruesome tabloid picture of him today, but for one of the videos I saw of him (some years after the event) when he scored six goals on a muddy pitch in an FA Cup tie against Northampton in 1970.

I hate Man United, but George was mesmerising that day. The way he effortlessly dribbled the ball past the players, swerving like a skier on a slalom course. A sublime talent and he played in an era when attacking players were kicked to pieces and didn't receive any protection from refs.

He could shoot powerfully with either foot and he got up without fuss when he was hacked to the ground by a big brute of a defender. (A contrast to the way in which that Portugese playboy diver Ronaldo stays down as if he's been shot.)

At 22, George was European Footballer of the Year. He was probably at his peak then in 1968, scoring 28 League goals, and with a European Cup medal to go with the English and European Footballer of the Year awards that he won. (It wasn't until Brian McClair in 1988, that United found a guy who could score 20 League goals in a season.)

George's autobiography was called "Blessed." He was certainly blessed with huge footballing talent. In other ways he wasn't so blessed. It's now in the hands of the good Lord as to whether he pulls through this time and is given another chance....

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breath away, I expect an hour of George Best will be as stunning. One fascinating aspect to watch for is that Best had exceptionally flexible ankles which enabled him to twist his boot to some extraordinary angles to his body. There is a goal against Sheffield United which illustrates that when he dribbles the ball across the box away from goal and smacked it in whilst still running towards the corner flag.


In your opinion, does Ronahldino exhibit similar attributes? Because watching Madrid, Barca last night, that's what struck me about his second goal.

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Ronaldinho is perhaps as close to Best as we will see in this era and I believe he has flexibility which is similar to Best but not the same. However, Best was the better dribbler- those six goals at Northampton on a cabbage patch were a prime example. It is fair to say that Ronaldinho either has the stronger shot or balls are lighter these days.

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Best actually asked if to have those pics printed in a way to help stop people drinking so much


You know, I don't buy that for a minute. The bloke isn't particularly clever, nor is he in any fit state to be dealing with tabloid journos of the type that have hounded him since he was a teenager.

If he was rational - ie not sick and dying - then he would see that dealing with the NOTW is about as far from issuing a 'public service' sort of statement as it's possible to get. What next? Has he sold his autopsy video to ogrish.com?

Besides, he must realise that nobody in this country, possibly not even among his own family, has the slightest bit of real sympathy for his self-inflicted demise.

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According to one of Jimmy Greaves' recent Saturday columns in The Sun, when Best had the liver transplant the consultant had a word with him on his release from hospital.

The jist was you can live a full and healthy life now if you kick boozing or if you continue to drink you've got three years.

When he relayed this particular conversation to Greaves he followed it up with '3 years, I'll put up with that.'

Looks like the three years is almost up.

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When I was around 13 or so United were drawn to play at Aldershot in the cup. I think Town were then in the fourth division. A friend of mine and his Dad were both United fans and his father also had connections at Aldershot. We got tickets to sit in a very old wooden stand, there were even chairs set around the edge of the pitch. I think United won by 5 or 6 to 0, Best, Charlton, Stiles, probably Law, the works. A great night for a kid who had probably only seen a couple of live games before that.

Best was a fantastically gifted player. As a person I don't know. I do hope we don't have a national period of mourning though as he was only a very good footballer.

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