Belfast Telegraph

More footballers will end up like George Best, says Blackpool boss Ian Holloway

Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has delivered a warning to football’s high-profile stars, claiming they could follow the sorry tale of George Best.

Manchester United legend Best — football’s first superstar — suffered from alcohol abuse during and after his glittering career at a time when players didn’t have the protection they receive today. The Northern Ireland icon tragically died in 2005, aged 59.

Following the latest lurid allegations levelled at troubled star Wayne Rooney, Blackpool boss Holloway believes the modern-day Manchester United hero may not be the only one staring bleakly at a slippery slope.

“In my opinion we've got a real problem,” said Holloway.

“I think now more than ever is the time when football clubs, particularly in the Premier League, have to be really careful about responsibility. Managers have a role to play, and so have football clubs and the player himself.

“I have a photo of Bestie on the wall of my office at Blackpool and how his life went is one of the saddest things ever.

“He was one of the most brilliant players of all time, but he was the world's first superstar footballer and it cost him. I think we may have a lot more George Bests around if we're not careful.

“We have people with a lot of time and money who go into clubs, and they have VIP areas where they drink champagne.

“On top of that you've got this mad society we're living in.

“If you look at the real top people in the world, whether they are singers or film stars, they have a duty to be good people before anything else.

“That is what I want football to try and get back to, but unfortunately I don't think that is encouraged by this mad, crazy, celebrity-obsessed world we live in.”

“The game has got to do an awful lot more to help eradicate that type of behaviour.”

“All of us, and this most certainly includes footballers, have a responsibility when it comes to values and morals and standards,” he said.

“Simply being courteous to other human beings, showing politeness and manners, is absolutely vital in life."

Meanwhile, Rooney will be offered a summer escape route out of England’s glare by Real Madrid.

Rooney, who was left out of the United squad for the trip to former club, Everton on Saturday due to fears he would suffered considerable verbal abuse, is the focus for a reported £65 million bid from the Spanish giants.

Jose Mourinho is a long-time admirer of the 24-year old striker and could offer Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain or Kaka in part-exchange to the Old Trafford club.

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