Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Sadness of George Best's family at the sell-off of his medals

The 1968 European Cup winner's medal awarded to George Best is being auctioned

Members of George Best’s family have said they are devastated that many of the footballer’s most famous awards are set to go under the hammer.

Medals and trophies awarded to the Northern Ireland football legend have been put up for auction in England next month by the executors of his estate.

Belfast’s most famous son became a hero at Manchester United before his lifelong battle with alcohol prematurely ended his glittering career.

Best’s brother-in-law Norman McNarry, who is married to the late footballer’s sister Barbara, said the items had to be sold for financial reasons.

“Myself and Barbara are absolutely devastated that the executor is having to arrange for the sale of George’s trophies and memorabilia, which hold so many memories for us and his many supporters across the world,” Mr McNarry said.

“But I reluctantly have had to agree that there is no alternative due to the financial status of the estate. I regret that, for legal reasons, I can make no further comment at this time other than to say I am hopeful that the auction will be a fine success and bring closure to this matter.”

Among the items up for sale is Best’s prestigious European Cup winner’s medal from 1968, following Manchester United’s 4-1 victory over Portuguese side Benfica, when the Red Devils became the first English team to win the European Cup.

Best scored one of his most memorable goals to send his side on the way to victory in the game and the medal has attracted a pre-sale estimate of £90,000 to £120,000.

The auction also offers a replica of this European Cup winner’s medal, which was made for Best, who died in 2005, by the Professional Footballers’ Association when he misplaced the original medal.

Modelled on Sir Bobby Charlton’s borrowed medal, it has been estimated at £8,000 to £10,000.

Another highlight of the sale, which is to be held at Bonhams auction house in Chester on October 20, is the 1968 English Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year trophy.

Estimated at £75,000-£100,000, the annual award recognised Best as the top player of the season in English football, as chosen by a panel of 400 football journalists.

Best, whose family home was in Burren Way in east Belfast’s Cregagh estate, was one of the world’s first celebrity footballers.

He led an extravagant lifestyle, which in turn sparked problems with alcoholism and curtailed his playing career.

An inability to win his battle with drink eventually led to his death in November 2005, at the age of 59.

The cause of death was multiple organ failure brought on by a kidney infection, a side-effect of the immuno-suppressive drugs he was required to take after a liver transplant.

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