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Best family in tribute to 'splendid man' who helped George during alcoholism battle

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George Best’s sister Barbara McNarry at a functon with the late Roger Williams and Sir Alex Ferguson

George Best’s sister Barbara McNarry at a functon with the late Roger Williams and Sir Alex Ferguson

George Best’s sister Barbara McNarry at a functon with the late Roger Williams and Sir Alex Ferguson

The family of footballing icon George Best have paid tribute to the surgeon who treated him during his battle with alcoholism, describing Professor Roger Williams as "a splendid man".

The distinguished liver specialist passed away on July 26 at the age of 88.

Professor Roger Williams CBE had been a member of the pioneering team that carried out the world's first liver transplant at Addenbrooke's Hospital in England in 1968.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, George's sister Barbara and her husband Norman described the incredibly close bond the whole family formed with Mr Williams, particularly during the latter days of the Manchester United star's life in 2005.

"Roger was a very special person," they said.

"We remember very clearly that day in 2005 when he brought us into the small family room at the Cromwell Hospital and broke the news to us that unfortunately things were not going as planned and were going to take their course.

"In the middle of it he choked up and started to cry.

"For a man who was described to us afterwards as a man of steel to allow himself to form such a close relationship with a patient, that was a real shock.

"The relationship he had by that stage with George, it showed in that moment.

"We always had an immense respect for him, however whenever we got there and spoke, we then had affection for him.

"Roger took us under his wing as a family and he kept us in the picture as things were going forward.

"He was professional to the core but it will always be something that will stick with us very much that during that conversation in the family room.

"On the day of the funeral he was one of the few people who we welcomed into the family home.

"We said to ourselves that the only people who will be allowed in the house were people who were with George whenever he passed away. Roger was one of those people.

"For us we are just so sad that Roger has passed away. He was a splendid man."

*Meanwhile, the grand opening of Bestie's Cafe Bistro will take place today in Portavogie, with the new restaurant supporting a charity on behalf of the Best family.

Belfast Telegraph