Belfast Telegraph

Day George Best snapped after claims he snubbed young fan

By Claire McNeilly

He was renowned as someone who always found time for his adoring fans.

And there's plenty of evidence that the late George Best always tried to live up to the maxim of fellow sporting superstar Muhammad Ali: never look down on the people who look up to you.

Evidence has now emerged of the lengths to which the Manchester United maestro would go to protect his 'man of the people' reputation.

A letter, written by the troubled football genius 50 years ago, has been put up for auction.

It tells the story of how incensed the Northern Ireland legend was left by an allegation that he had been foul-mouthed to a young United fan, having snubbed the boy's request for an autograph.

The framed letter, which is expected to fetch up to £800 at Barnabys, is from 1967 - when Best, then 21, was at the height of his powers at Old Trafford.

Along with the other members of the fabled 'holy trinity', Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, the Belfast boy was blazing a trail in both the domestic league and Europe - and, having been dubbed 'The Fifth Beatle', was receiving thousands of letters from fans every week.

But although he had employed staff to help with the mailbags of correspondence, he found time to personally reply to 'Miss Scott', the sister of his young accuser.

"Obviously you are quite an intelligent young lady, so don't you think it's about time you grew up," wrote a clearly angered George, who died from alcohol-related problems in December 2005, aged 59.

"I have never sworn or been rude to a youngster in my life, so either your brother has been telling nasty little stories or you think this is a clever way of making me send an autograph..." he added.

Clever or not, it worked - and Bestie, despite his annoyance, enclosed a personal message and autograph on a separate piece of paper.

But not before he had threatened legal action!

"I could have sent your letter straight to my solicitor but I'll just put it down as the work of another one of those cranks who seem to get pleasure in sending me revolting letters," he wrote.

It concluded: "I can't say it's been a pleasure to hear from you.

"PS: if it's any consolation I have sent your brother an autograph."

Master Scott clearly treasured the reply, even though it wasn't exactly gushing with praise about him.

And the young lad from Chorlton, Greater Manchester, has finally decided to cash in, half a century on.

Best continued his love affair with supporters long after his premature retirement - something ex-wives Angie and Alex believed helped contribute to the tragic lapse into alcoholism which would eventually cost him his life.

"If 70,000 men wanted to have a drink with George, that was one drink for them and 70,000 for him," said Angie.

Meanwhile, Best, Law and Charlton are to be depicted on Manchester United's change strip next season, it has emerged.

A silhouette of the fabled Old Trafford trio, who have been immortalised in bronze outside the stadium, will appear on the shirts United wear when there is a colour clash with rival teams in away games.

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