Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Our music and sports stars need tributes too

The bronze statue of football legend George Best with Pat Jennings and Barbara McNarry George Best's sister
The bronze statue of football legend George Best with Pat Jennings and Barbara McNarry George Best's sister

Editor's Viewpoint

While the statue of George Best unveiled at Windsor Park yesterday, scene of some of his finest games, was greeted with mixed opinions, what is not in doubt is that he was a fitting subject to be cast in bronze.

He is rightly regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time and people who saw him play still speak with awe at his ability in an era when players of his ilk were given very little protection on the field.

But he was also a very handsome man, and while the statue captures some of the fluidity of his movement on the ball, many believe it does not do justice to his looks which won him a legion of female fans with very little interest in the beautiful game, but a lot in the beautiful player.

The Best statue raises the question of whether we celebrate sufficiently those who have brought honour to Northern Ireland. There are many statues to old time preachers, Queen Victoria or in commemoration of tragic events like the sinking of the Titanic, but perhaps not enough to remember sporting or cultural giants.

There are specially commissioned windows and doors to remember the epic fantasy series, Game of Thrones, but nothing to celebrate the achievements of Barry McGuigan or footballers like Pat Jennings, who unveiled the Best statue.

Windsor Park is home to a huge collection of sporting memorabilia, but even more could be done.

Our literary giants CS Lewis and Seamus Heaney rightly have their achievements immortalised, but where is a music heritage centre to celebrate those who have brought fame to the province in the worlds of pop and classical music?

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We only have to see the popularity of the Troubles tours - along the peace walls and to various memorials to dead terrorists - to realise that practically any human endeavour, good or bad, can create interest. The Troubles are hardly an endorsement of Northern Ireland, but they were an undeniable part of the province's history.

Statuary may seem an old fashioned way of remembering people, but they become a talking point and to many people's eyes are a better adornment to the province than some of the more esoteric sculptures which have been erected in recent years and whose significance remains a mystery to the general public.

The only mystery about George Best's statue is whether it is a true likeness or not.

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