Belfast Telegraph

George Best remembered: Brilliant Bestie would have lit up the Euro finals

By Steven Beacom

David Healy, Michael Hughes, Keith Gillespie and Maik Taylor are some of the Northern Ireland heroes who never got the chance to play for their country at a major tournament.

The greatest of them all, though, who didn't get the opportunity to strut his stuff on the big stage at international level was of course George Best, who passed away 10 years ago today.

Just one of the reasons why the current Northern Ireland stars appreciate what it means to be going to next year's Euro finals.

Ask any of the boys in Michael O'Neill's squad about Bestie and they will talk in awe about the man.

Speaking to Kyle Lafferty earlier this month, I listed all the players he had passed on Northern Ireland's goalscoring list during the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign when he netted seven goals, taking his tally to 16.

You won't be surprised to learn that it was Best's name that excited him most.

Read more:

George Best remembered: The Best interview I never did with boyhood idol George

Cancer sufferer campaigning for George Best statue in star's Belfast home 

Tonight at Old Trafford, when Manchester United play PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League, to mark the anniversary of George's death Red Devils fans will turn on their mobile phone torches in the seventh minute and display a commemorative banner which will include the words 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out', the title of a song from Manchester band The Smiths.

How George would have lit up a major tournament for Northern Ireland.

There was a notion he may return to international duty from retirement for the 1982 World Cup finals, but it never happened.

Still, he provided us with a host of magical memories to store.

I feel privileged to have been the last newspaper journalist to interview George before his passing.

He was proud of his wee country and rest assured had he been around today, he would have savoured seeing Northern Ireland qualify for the Euro 2016 finals.

Belfast Telegraph