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By George! How Mark won official Best lookalike status

George Best lookalike competition winner Mark O'Hare visits the former Manchester United star's house at Burren Way, Belfast and is given a guided tour by George's brother Ian
George Best lookalike competition winner Mark O'Hare visits the former Manchester United star's house at Burren Way, Belfast and is given a guided tour by George's brother Ian
Royal Mail is marking the 150th anniversary of the establishment of association football with images of the 11 greatest players from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales including George Best

By Lesley Houston

The spirit of George Best was back at his old childhood stomping ground during a unique and poignant meeting.

The football legend's younger brother Ian was at the Best's former home in east Belfast to meet someone named as an official lookalike of his famous sibling.

The Co Down man Ian was meeting bears such a striking resemblance to the Manchester United legend that he was invited to audition for the role in a play based on George’s life.

A few years ago Mark O'Hare from Newcastle was busy working as a concierge at the Slieve Donard Hotel in the town when playwrights Marie Jones and Martin Lynch were working on musical Dancing Shoes, based on the life of the footballer, who died in 2005.

Mark (29) said they remarked about his resemblance to the legend. A short time later he got a call from Martin Lynch's assistant.

“They actually asked me to audition but I told them I had no experience at all in drama.

“But I did go for it after all because it was such an honour.

“I get it all the time and people always say ‘you're a ringer for Geordie Best' and you don't know whether people are taking the mickey. Then Martin Lynch invited me to audition.”

Ian recalled a double take when he first saw his brother's lookalike, who, with his hair and beard, evokes Best’s 1960s iconic look.

“When I first saw the photo of Mark and George’s son Calum I did have to do a double take and he had the stubble on his face, though George's was much thicker, and the look of him round the eyes.”

Mark was captured in a photograph with George's son and ex-wife Angie Best after meeting at the premiere of Dancing Shoes.

It was that meeting with Calum that led to Mark recently being named as the official lookalike in a competition run by Aer Lingus at George Best Belfast City Airport.

“I tweeted Calum about the competition. He tweeted to me and said I should go for it and then someone I work with entered me in the contest and I won.”

Ian said meeting Mark for the first time helped rekindle personal family memories in what Ian called a “poignant” visit, especially sitting in his late father Dickie's living room chair.

The house, brought by east Belfast regeneration group, Landmark East, can now be rented out to fans.

Guests have arrived from as far as Norway, and all want to sleep in the room once occupied by the man many regard as the world's best ever footballer.

For more, visit www.georgebest.com

Background

George Best was born in East Belfast on May 22, 1946. In 1963, aged 16, George made his debut for Northern Ireland in their under 18 team. George made his Manchester United debut against WBA in the same year. In six seasons with United George scored 179 goals in 370 games — six in one game. He died on November 25, 2005, following a battle with alcohol addiction.

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