Belfast Telegraph

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Sports greats merit better tribute

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 23/11/2015

This week marks the 10th anniversary of the death of George Best, but how many people can recall the exact date? How much more could have been made of this Northern Ireland superstar.

There is still a worldwide fascination about George Best, but how much have we capitalised on and celebrated George - apart from an airport that bears his name?

Anyone coming to Belfast to mark the 10th anniversary of his death would be hard-pushed as to what to do, apart from visiting his grave and taking a drive past his former home at Burren Way.

There is not even a statue of Best in Belfast, but this is typical of our failure to properly recognise and to celebrate our sporting heritage.

There are many other football heroes, including Danny Blanchflower, Bertie Peacock and others from our World Cup squads.

Likewise, there are many other sporting greats like Dame Mary Peters, Willie John McBride, the golfing trio of Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, as well as AP McCoy, Rinty Monaghan and many outstanding GAA players.

Rinty's statue has been unveiled recently in Belfast, but only decades after his outstanding achievements.

The stunning feats of our sporting champions live long in the memories of those who remember them, but the more solid and lasting tributes take much longer to achieve.

This newspaper, and many other people, have long campaigned for a Northern Ireland sports museum where the achievements of our outstanding figures could be marked permanently by a professional display including some of the objects which helped to make them famous.

Imagine being able to browse through a collection which contains George Best's boots, Joey Dunlop's famous helmet, Rinty Monaghan's gloves, or Mary Peters' track shoes?

Northern Ireland continually hits the heights in sport, and this year the BBC's prestigious Sports Personality of the Year celebration will be televised live in Belfast.

Yet we are at a loss as to how best to commemorate the lasting achievements of our top stars.

Surely it is time for our government and others to pay them a proper tribute, and a Northern Ireland sports museum would be welcomed by all.

Belfast Telegraph

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