Calum Best says Old Trafford icon George could never have backed elitist project
Manchester United legend George Best would have been totally against his old club joining the European Super League, his son Calum believes.
The failed project would have seen the 12 founding ESL members, including the Red Devils, handed a guaranteed spot in what they viewed as the continent’s premier tournament.
Fan protests sprang up at the stadiums of the six Premier League sides involved, forcing the clubs to withdraw from the competition.
Around 1,000 protesters gathered at Old Trafford and 200 outside the Lowry Hotel in Salford before United were due to play Liverpool on May 2, expressing their disgust at the ESL plans and the Glazer family ownership of the club.
The game was then postponed after about 200 fans entered the ground.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph ahead of the release of the BT Sport film ‘George Best: True Genius’ on Wednesday, Calum Best, who narrates the hour-long documentary, said his father would not have supported the ESL.
“My dad was pro Manchester United, he was pro pure football,” Calum said.
“About Ireland as well, I remember people saying that no matter what was going on in Ireland he brought this thing together.
“I don’t think he would have liked too much money getting involved, especially what’s going on at United.
“When you see the fortress being built outside of the walls with the players and protests you understand it because of the passion that’s in the game and the passion people have for their clubs.”
Calum (40) said that while his father, who passed away in 2005, did not like to praise footballers too much as he preferred to showcase his own skills, he felt the Northern Ireland international would have enjoyed Edinson Cavani’s goal of the season contender for Manchester United on Tuesday.
His brilliant 40-yard lobbed goal against Fulham sent the returning fans to their feet inside Old Trafford.
“My old man was the kind of guy who would have given praise but he wouldn't have given too much praise because he wanted to be the guy that held the best goals and all those things,” added Calum.
“He praised a lot of players but I remember him talking really, really highly about [Ryan] Giggsy when he first came on the scene.
“My dad knew his football and I think he would have been a great manager or a great pundit, or all those things. I think he would really enjoy watching this film back of all those special moments.”
George Best: True Genius focuses on Best’s rise from the schoolboy ranks at Manchester United to winning the Ballon d’Or in 1968 after helping the club lift its first European Cup.
Rightly regarded as one the best footballers to have ever lived, Belfast boy Best’s talent has been brilliantly brought together in the film, which includes never before seen footage of his skills on the pitch.
It also includes the famous Northern Ireland moment of Best taking the ball mid-air from England goalkeeper Gordon Banks, lobbing it over his head and putting it into the net.
Many still believe the 1971 Windsor Park goal was wrongly disallowed, while Calum described it as “genius” and said it should have been awarded.
Calum also recalled his father telling him about his favourite footballing moment against Chelsea’s fearsome defender Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris.
“He said he had beaten Chopper and Chopper ran across the pitch and said, ‘If you do that again George I’m going to break your legs’.
“My dad was like, ‘So you know what I did? I ran over, got the ball, ran all the way back over and beat him again’. I thought he played with that confidence.”
Calum added that next Wednesday’s release of the film will be even more special as Manchester United take on Villarreal in the final of the Europa League and it will be the 22nd anniversary of the club winning the treble. This Saturday would also have been his father’s 75th birthday.
“I hope United win because it’ll be even better when this film comes out,” added Calum. “I think it’s a really great way to celebrate his birthday. Birthday or not, I think it’s an incredible film that just shows the football.
“There’s something about this that is so football focused and so prime, young, cool, talented, George Best, that people might not have seen and that’s why I’m excited for people to see it.”
George Best: True Genius, the next instalment in the BT Sport Films series, will premiere on BT Sport 1 at 10.45pm on Wednesday.