Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

It was our Best home, says Alex as house goes on sale

The Portavogie home that George and Alex best lived in has been put up for sale

Football legend George Best's luxury former Portavogie home— the last place he lived in Northern Ireland — is for sale with an asking price of £375,000.

The luxury four-bedroom detached house, which sits on a quarter of an acre with its own paddock and breathtaking Irish Sea views, went on the market earlier this week.

The private location and well-appointed home on the Co Down coast, which has an oak kitchen and en suite master bedroom, is a far cry from the small council house where Best grew up.

Manchester United star George, who died aged 59, in 2005, shared the coastal home near the fishing village with then wife Alex (40), before later returning to England.

Alex said of their former home: “It was absolutely perfect, and what we needed at the time.”

George and Alex retreated to the idyllic Co Down spot over a decade ago from London in a bid to keep him off the bottle as he battled his alcohol addiction.

The property was then sold by the couple a few years later on their return to England.

During their time in Portavogie, George converted the garage into a games room, and it still houses the snooker table he played on — although this is not for sale.

Alex told the Belfast Telegraph she adored the property: “I loved that house. It is my favourite house ever. It was wonderful, and it was the first house that George lived in, that he participated in renovating and decorating. It gave him something to focus on as he battled his demons,” she said.

“When we moved in we had no furniture and we had friends coming over to stay. I remember we bought a sofa and a couple of mattresses, two mugs, two knives and forks and a couple of pre-packed meals from M&S when we moved in. And it was like that for a while as we still had our other place in London at the time.

“We spent years redeveloping the house and making it into a home. We ripped everything out and put in a gorgeous kitchen. George insisted on having a bar, with no alcohol just lemonade, and a snooker table — which was played on just the once.

“I loved living there and we spent a fortune putting a fence around the front of the property to keep our red setter from escaping. It was absolutely perfect.”

But George’s health saw them return to London: “The only reason we left was because George was so ill. It was part of me and part of George. We redeveloped the whole place and made it into a very special, beautiful home. It is sad and I hope whoever buys it looks after it.”

Alex says she made many friends in Northern Ireland when she lived here, and is still a regular visitor due to her involvement with charities such as Aids 2000.

“I made so many friends, and we are still in touch to this day.”

Best’s childhood home at number 16 Burren Way in east Belfast has since been turned into self-catering holiday flats.

A community regeneration group paid £100,000 for the historic home, where the footballer lived until he was 15, before moving to Manchester and the start of a glittering football career.

Now the Bests’ former Co Down home is expected to generate interest from buyers.

The Lemons Road residence has four bedrooms, four reception rooms, a luxury oak kitchen, bathroom and en suite facilities.

Estate agent Michael Rodgers, of Rodgers and Browne, who is handling the sale, said: “I think it is a possibility that it will be of interest, considering that such a big Northern Ireland personality was attached to it.”

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