Belfast Telegraph

George Best's son 'not invited to statue unveiling'

Calum Best
Calum Best
Pat Jennings, Barbara McNarry at the George Best statue
Calum Best as a child
Ivan Little

By Ivan Little

George Best's son Calum has re-opened a bitter rift with his father's family in Northern Ireland after claiming that he wasn't invited to the unveiling of a statue of the football legend outside Windsor Park in Belfast last week.

But Best's sister Barbara McNarry has hit back at her nephew saying that he'd shown no interest in the development of the bronze tribute by sculptor Tony Currie from the start.

During an hour-long podcast interview that was broadcast on the day his father would have celebrated his 73rd birthday, Calum Best said it was "crazy" that he wasn't invited to the statue unveiling, which was carried out by Mrs McNarry, Northern Ireland goalkeeper Pat Jennings and Best 'superfan' Robert Kennedy outside the Olympia Leisure Centre.

A friend of the Best family said it was "significant" that the interviewer Michael Anthony didn't ask Calum if he would have accepted the invitation if one had been sent to him.

He also said that some of Calum's comments in the interview had caused "deep offence" to the Best family.

Mrs McNarry took to Twitter to say that Calum's version of events in the interview was in many instances "factually incorrect".

She said that "one glaring example" was over the unveiling of the statue at Windsor Park, adding: "For over two years Calum has been appraised of the situation right up to a few weeks before the match at Windsor Park."

That was a reference to a charity game that 38-year-old Calum organised in Belfast in April.

Mrs McNarry however said there'd been absolutely no response from her nephew about the statue, adding: "So while it could be said that he didn't get an invite, I wonder why?"

In his online interview Calum said he was upset that he had no rights to his father's name and image. He added: "It upsets me because what I would like more than anything if I was able to have the George Best imagery or name I could go to Adidas (the sports company) and I could make cool replica jerseys from back in the day to keep his legacy alive with the youth of today."

In answer to a question about "animosity" between him and the Belfast Bests, Calum said he didn't want to talk too much about it but he added that it was "public knowledge".

He said that "sadly" he didn't really know his father's side of the family as he was growing up.

He said that he had now moved on with his life to create his own businesses and his own name. "I will always be proud to be George Best's son," he added.

Reflecting on his life, Calum said he had "been through hell and back" having been bankrupt and having almost become an addict himself.

He said that after George's death he had nowhere to go.

"I didn't talk to my dad's side of the family. My mom was in America. I was just by myself. I masked my pain by drinking because I didn't know how to cope."

Calum said he had become involved in charity work in the last 10 years and he regretted that his father's family hadn't seen that he'd been "working his ass off" to help other people.

One of his most recent events was the celebrity football match watched by 6,000 people at Windsor Park.

One of the beneficiaries was a charity that supports children from families struggling with alcoholism.

Calum told the online interview that "it was only in the past few years" when he started going back to Belfast "where I felt more of a connect".

"And all of a sudden I went holy s*** this is where my bloodline is from.

"I might sound like a Yank, I might have been raised in California, but my father is from here. So from that moment on I made a conscious effort and I reached out to as many people as I could.

"The main group I reached out to was the IFA.

"I said I wanted to do something for the community."

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