Belfast Telegraph

Man United's George Best lit up the football world now fans to pay a special tribute to him

By Claire McNeilly

Manchester United fans are planning a special Old Trafford tribute to mark the 10th anniversary of George Best's death.

The 59-year-old United and Northern Ireland football legend passed away on November 25, 2005 following a lengthy battle with alcoholism.

Supporters group Stretford End Flags (SEF) have commissioned a commemorative banner and are asking fans to turn on their mobile phone lights in the seventh minute of the forthcoming Champions League match with Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.

The game takes place exactly 10 years after the club's most illustrious wearer of the number seven shirt passed away in a London hospital.

The banner will sport the words 'There Is a Light That Never Goes Out', the title of the 1986 classic song by Manchester band The Smiths.

An SEF spokesman described Best as "one of Manchester United's greatest ever players".

He added: "George was a shining example of the trust in youth that (former United manager) Sir Matt Busby has instilled in the club and his genius lit up football stadia whenever he played. And just as George lit up Old Trafford through his dazzling football, we call on all supporters to turn on their mobile phone torches and light up the stadium in the seventh minute."

John White, branch secretary of Carryduff Manchester United Supporters Club, said 50 of its members will be at the PSV game in a fortnight.

"We'll be there at Old Trafford on Wednesday, November 25 and we'll be taking part in the torch tribute," he said. "We haven't made any formal plans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Bestie's death but we're having a committee meeting tonight and that will be on the agenda.

"It's not something we would normally do without the family's permission.

"When George's dad Dickie was alive he gave us permission to call ourselves the George Best Carryduff Manchester United Supporters Club.

"We were part of the formation of the George Best Foundation, because it was our club that brought Sir Alex Ferguson over to help launch it."

Mr White added: "There are 32 official branches in Northern Ireland, and I meet them quite regularly, but I'm not sure if any of them have actively organised anything at this stage."

Ten years after his death, Bestie, as he was affectionately known to fans, continues to fascinate.

A movie focusing entirely on the iconic player throughout the duration of a game was recently rediscovered by an Irish composer, Matthew Nolan, who has created a new score for its re-release.

The long-forgotten film, entitled Football As Never Before, sees the camera linger on Best against Coventry City at Old Trafford in 1970.

Released in 1971, it was made by German director Hellmuth Costard, who used eight 16mm cameras to track Best's every move, including during half-time.

Meanwhile, a pair of Best's trademark football boots is currently being given extra-special treatment to stop them falling apart.

The boots, which the Belfast boy wore during a Northern Ireland game in the 1970s, will get the same loving care ancient artefacts dug up at archaeological digs normally receive in a bid to preserve them for future generations.

The National Football Museum is footing the £3,000 bill to ensure the 39-year-old Adidas Milano boots will be around for years to come.

The restoration treatment will involve 80 hours of painstaking repairs by footwear craftsmen.

Belfast Telegraph


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