Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

George Best coffin flag row - brother breaks silence

George Best advertising Cookstown Sausages
George Best advertising Cookstown Sausages
George Best
George Best

George Best
Regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever, Best inspired Manchester United to European Cup success in 1968, the first time an English club had won the big prize. The Belfast star was named European Footballer of the Year following United’s European triumph, ahead of team mate Bobby Charlton. Best had already been elevated to popstar status by that stage, due in part to a stunning display when he scored twice in a 5-1 win away to Benfica in 1966 which saw him dubbed 'El Beatle'. Although playing 37 times for Northern Ireland, the team never made it to the World Cup Finals denying him a place on the ultimate international stage. Best's life was blighted by alcoholism, he was the classic wayward genius. He died in November 2005, aged 59.
Martin O'Neill at George Best's funeral
Callum Best and mum Angie at George Best's funeral
George Best: Better than Messi?
26 April, 1965: Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal Busby's second great side claimed their first championship on a Monday night. Denis Law scored twice, George Best (pictured) the other and then the waiting began. Leeds, the only team who could halt United, were still playing against Birmingham. At Old Trafford the players waited on the pitch, the crowd waited too, then shortly after 9pm the result came through: 3-3. United were champions.
Rodney Marsh at George Best's funeral
Dennis Law (centre) at George Best's funeral
One of the images from a collection of George Best memorabilia which has been found in a bedroom wardrobe at a house in Worsley, Greater Manchester.
Alex Higgans at George Best's funeral
Barry McGuigan and his wife at George Best's funeral
One of the images from a collection of George Best memorabilia which has been found in a bedroom wardrobe at a house in Worsley, Greater Manchester.Mike Preston starred in an advert with the footballing legend
Milan Manderic at George Best's funeral
Pat Jennings at George Best's funeral
Phil Taylor, George Best's agent and Jackie Fullerton at George Best's funeral
One of the images from a collection of George Best memorabilia which has been found in a bedroom wardrobe at a house in Worsley, Greater Manchester.
George Best
George Best Belfast City is the fastest growing airport in the UK, new figures indicate.
Terry Neill at George Best's funeral
Paddy Kielty and Gerry Armstrong at George Best's funeral
George Best has a drink in a Belfast bar
George Best, during the Northern Ireland v England match in October 1966
Football legend George Best pictured in January 1964
Football legend George Best pictured in January 1964
Manchester United legend George Best
Benfica's Goalkeeper Jose Henrique (left) races back to his goal in a vain attempt to stop George Best (right) of Manchester United from scoring his team's second goal in the the European Cup final at Wembley, 29th May 1968. United eventually won 4-3 after extra time.
George Best pictured with Pat Jennings
Football legend George Best pictured at Windsor Park
George Best in training for Manchester United
Football legend George Best
George Best relaxes with a cup of coffee as he waits for the action in Bulgaria to begin
Crowds gather at Stormont for the funeral of George Best
Crowds gather at Stormont for the funeral of George Best
Frank McLintock at George Best's funeral
Mike England at George Best's funeral
George Best chats to Michael Parkinson
George Best's coffin is carried up the steps to the Stormont buildings
George Best
Manchester United hero George Best was known as much for his off-field antics as his moves on it. He once told interviewer Michael Parkinson that he had sex at half time whilst his heavy partying is considered the reason for his career tailing off. Best is also only one of two men known to have slept with at least two Miss Worlds. The glamour of this fact is somewhat tarnished when you realise the other man to have achieved this is Bruce Forsyth.
Some of the Best memorabilia up for grabs at Wilsons Auction house today. There are 110 lots of George Best memorabilia available, collected by Dickie Best over a period of 40 years.
Some of the Best memorabilia up for grabs at Wilsons Auction house today. There are 110 lots of George Best memorabilia available, collected by Dickie Best over a period of 40 years.
Best Fan - 7 year old Luke McMullan from Dungannon holding a replica European Champions Manchester United Trophy presented to Dickie Best when George Best died. There are 110 lots of George Best memorabilia available, collected by Dickie Best over a period of 40 years.
Some of the Best memorabilia up for grabs at Wilsons Auction house today. Pictured a silver Benfica letter opener, dated 1966, given to George which marks Man Utd's 5-1 European Cup defeat of Benfica in Lisbon. There are 110 lots of George Best memorabilia available, collected by Dickie Best over a period of 40 years

The brother of Manchester United legend George Best has spoken about the family row over the flag that covered the football superstar's coffin.

The flag, used at Best's funeral in 2005, was due to be sold at auction on Wednesday by lan Best.

It was expected to raise around £6,000 but the lot did not sell during the initial auction process.

Auctioneer Bonhams is still in discussion with potential buyers.

lan (43), who lives in Torquay, Devon, owns the flag but his decision to sell it has reportedly caused a row with family and friends back home in Northern Ireland. One friend has described the sale as “macabre”.

The Northern Ireland Football Association flag was draped over the coffin on the journey from his father's house to the Manchester United hero's final resting place at Roselawn Cemetery, Belfast, on November 25, 2005.

lan said he is just part of a normal working class family, adding “there are no airs and graces”.

He originally put the flag up for auction in October 2008 but it was later withdrawn. He said the choice to put the flag on George's coffin was made by his father out of respect for the country.

He says he was “very close” to George despite there being a 20-year age gap. He said: “People have this idea that because we are part of George's family we have money, but we don't.”

lan was made redundant last year but has since found a new job.

The flag has been estimated as being worth up to £6,000.

One of George's friends, 65-year-old Malcolm Wagner, called the sale “macabre”, and said the flag should go to the Manchester United museum or the George Best Foundation, which was co-founded by George's sister Barbara McNarry.

But lan has said his only motivation for selling the flag — which he says George never had any contact with — was to buy family heirlooms from his dead father's estate in Northern Ireland.

“The flag was draped over his coffin but that was it, and I wanted to use the money to buy things that were closer to George,” said lan.

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