Saturday, November 26, 2005

George Best

Time to brave the Scottish weather and head to Celtic Park for a top v bottom clash, as Dunfermline visit. The match to be preceded by a minute of applause for the now departed George Best.

I remember seeing the NME front cover reporting the death of Elvis. It showed not a bloated, jump-suited, Vegas era Elvis; but a young, leather clad, vibrant Elvis, strutting his stuff on stage.

The headline - 'Elvis, Remember Him This Way'

So it is with George Best. He can be remembered as the jaundiced, broken addict, whose shambolic personal life prematurely ended his career; or as the mesmerising attacker who left defenders trailing and entertained millions.

Some aspects of his personal life were pretty enviable too. 'The Fifth Beatle', 'The first footballer-popstar'. What young man wouldn't wish they could one day utter the immortal phrases:

'I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars - the rest I just squandered.'

'I used to go missing a lot...Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World.'

No one had done it before, so his failure to handle the fame shouldn't be that surprising.

George Best, remember him this way

Yet Best was hardly the ideal role model, and some of his off-field behaviour went beyond questionable, and well into despicable.

So I was surprised by how affected I was by his death. Amidst the tributes, one photo really caught my eye. It wasn't an iconic shot from his Manchester United days; but a more intimate shot of Best asleep on the couch with his baby son held close. Both look content and at peace.

George Best and Calum

The Div family album has recently gained a few very similar shots. It brought home to me that while some may be given talents the rest of us can only dream of, ultimately we are all only human. We have our good side and our bad; our skills and weaknesses.

We all have our families. Best was survived by his father, who now has to bury his son.

There can be few more traumatic events in life than burying your child. My own gran had to do it three times, and it's not an experience I would wish on anyone.

I don't know how Mr Best handled the publicity over his son's private life and off-field excesses. Yet I'm sure there is one apt quote, which he will remember fondly. It's probably the same quote Best himself will wish to be remembered by:

'Pele called me the greatest footballer in the world. That is the ultimate salute to my life.'

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