Belfast Telegraph

Statue of football legend George Best to grace spot beside Windsor Park so fans can pay homage

By Rebecca Black

A bronze statue of football legend George Best is to be erected just yards from where he scored what was arguably one of his most famous "goals".

The monument - which is being gifted to Belfast City Council by a small art group named Lecale Bronze - will be placed outside the new Olympia Leisure Centre, close to the National Stadium at Windsor Park, by early next year.

On May 15, 1971 the Manchester United hero "scored" his unforgettable disallowed goal against England.

After World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks picked up the ball and prepared to punt it upfield, Best cheekily kicked it in mid air, ran round Banks and nodded it into the net.

The goal was controversially chalked off and England ended up winning 1-0.

Best was capped 37 times for Northern Ireland, scoring nine. Out of the nine goals, four were against Cyprus and one each against Albania, England, Scotland, Switzerland and Turkey.

Now his memory will be marked close to where some of those games took place. Lecale Bronze is funding the statue (left) by means of public donation.

It is the work of artists Tony Currie, Jeremy Flanagan and James G Miles.

The group has offered the statue to the council on the understanding it is located at an easily accessible site so that people will be able to view it and have their picture taken.

The fundraising for completion of the piece will be carried out by Lecale Bronze via a crowdfunding website.

The amount needed is estimated at £37,000 for artist fees, foundry costs and materials, plus there will be an additional fee for the website.

The group anticipates that the fundraising and sculpture will be finished ahead of the completion of the new Olympia Boulevard in the spring of next year.

The council's strategic policy and resources committee is expected to give approval for the Best statue to be located at Olympia Boulevard at its meeting today.

Lecale Bronze consulted with the Best family over the location.

Best, who won the European Cup with United in 1968 and was named European Footballer of the Year the same season, died in 2005 after a well-documented battle with alcoholism.

Belfast City Airport was renamed George Best Belfast City Airport as a tribute in 2006.

And airline Flybe named one of its fleet of planes after him in the same year.

Belfast Telegraph


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