Off his turf but game for anything

ADS: No 134: THE ROYAL MINT
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The Independent Culture
You can't move for footballers in commercials this month. It's bad enough at the best of times but Euro 96 has provoked Creative of NW1 into a frenzy of Loaded Lad Fantasy Football. There's Gazza - again - this time for Adidas; Ian Wright for the News of the World, Marcel Desailly for another Adidas number; Eric Cantona in the Sunday Times sport supplement and loads more.

They're all built around the interchangeable notion of current stardom, with one exception: the George Best commercial for the Royal Mint Euro 96 football commemorative pounds 2 coin hangs on the legend of his fall: the horribly gripping story we saw on BBC2's recent Best Night. It's full of references to life on the skids. With some famous chequered careers, history can be redeemed by knowing self-parody or the feeling that it's all securely behind them. With Best it looks more like bear-baiting.

Best picks up the ball - the new coin - at the Post Office and walks along what looks like a pretty modest High Street tossing and catching it to a football-match soundtrack and a pastiche "commentary". Voiceover: "He's walked past one, shimmied past another." Pubs that is: the Duke of York; the Marquis of Granby; the Lincoln and the Newman Arms.

Best looks awful with his liver- failure chin; he looks as if it's really the last of his Giro. "He had it all," the relentlessly heavy-handed commentator drones on, "and he's given it all away," just before Best arrives at a patch of municipal-looking green where there's a single 11-year-old with a football. And Best tosses him the coin with a sentimental exchange of thumbs ups and a lot of slo- mo on the flying metal, then - sadder? wiser? confused? - looks reflectively at his empty palm.

So that's how the baton passes.

It's rather odd seeing the Royal Mail selling a commemorative coin with the Queen's head on it through the sad story of a pickled Sixties sportsman.

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