Saturday, November 26, 2005

On George Best

I can't help but thinking the that the huge amount of press coverage during George Best's illness and eventual death is a bit excessive. I know that he was a phenominally talented footballer and that he entertained a whole generation of football loving individuals. But that was a quarter of a century ago, and although I am a bit of a sports fan myself, six (in football terms golden) years of entertainment (on and off the pitch) doesn't seem to be enough of a reason to justify the huge popularity of the man and the subsequent adoration of what appears to be a rather large percentage of the British populus.

I can't but think that George Best had squandered one of the rarest and most precious football talents ever seen in favour of a self-indulgent merry-go-round of birds, booze and motors. His love of alcohol had over a period of around 30 years destroyed many of his relationships, and his liver. I suppose that the reason he was so popular was that depite his great talent and achievements, he had an obvious and very public flaw.

Anyway he managed to kill himself and that was, I suppose, his choice. I can only hope that the rather excessive news coverage will at least tip the balance for some people and prevent them from following his self destructive route through life. Looking at the latest figures on underage drinking and binge drinking however I don't think that it will make any difference somehow.

It has been reported that George Best hoped that people would remember him for the football, and that he wished that to be his legacy. I think that most people will remember him for being George Best; an extremely talented footballer, a bit of a character and an alcoholic. That is the curse of the cult of popularity, and it was, in the end, who he was.


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