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George Best would have dazzled in Italy, says TV's James Richardson


Silky skills: George Best weaves his magic during his Manchester United days
Silky skills: George Best weaves his magic during his Manchester United days
Paul Gascoigne
James Richardson

By David O'Dornan

Football presenter James Richardson believes that Northern Ireland and Manchester United legend George Best would have shone if he'd followed in the footsteps of John Charles and Jimmy Greaves and played in Italy.

Richardson, who hosted Football Italia on Channel 4 for 10 years from 1992, said that the only issue would have been if Bestie could have kept his well-documented problems with alcohol under control.

Richardson said: "Oh, definitely. The only question with him is given the distractions, or given how distracted he was by certain kind of off-field activities, what running around Italy would have done to his playing career.

"It's a remarkable place full of some pretty remarkable people, as we saw with (Diego) Maradona. I'm not saying that necessarily the same temptations would have gone George's way. But no question, in terms of ability, absolutely he would have been a star there.

"I'd just worry slightly about the good life. He'd have had a brilliant time - perhaps too brilliant a time."

Richardson will be in Belfast tomorrow night for his hit podcast The Totally Football Show Live, and as well as banter and football stories, the BT Sports host and his team will discuss the top Premier League clubs.

But it is his time reporting on the likes of AC Milan and Juventus for Channel 4 that he is best known for, as they capitalised on the interest around Italia'90.

He said: "You had so many of the players that had lit up that World Cup for us, including in English terms three members of the best England team we'd had in a World Cup for a very long time - David Platt, Des Walker and of course Paul Gascoigne.

"My best Gazza story unfortunately I can't share - it involves pies and I'm sure it'll get an airing at our live event without in any way wishing to be a tease.

"He was a terrific bloke but a nightmare to pin down - but when you finally got him he would just be a dream, a natural entertainer and naturally spontaneously funny and a great performer. The worst? Didier Deschamps shocked us by asking for money to do the interview."

The Totally Football Show Live with James Richardson is at The Limelight, Belfast tomorrow (Saturday, November 9). Tickets are £20 from Ticketmaster and show is over-18s only.

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