Tearful Denis Law says Best is 'not good, but he's a fighter'

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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, for which Best played, said club supporters were "rooting" for the legendary player, who was in Cromwell Hospital in London breathing with the help of a ventilator and suffering from internal bleeding.

Yesterday afternoon the 59-year-old's doctor said his condition had slightly improved, but that he was still "a very sick man".

Shortly afterwards, Law wiped away tears as he left the hospital and spoke of his shock at his former team-mate's condition. "He is not good, but he is fighting," he said. "He is still there and we have got to hope."

Law, who underwent treatment for prostate cancer in 2003, added: "I did get a shock - the man's not looking good. But he is a fighter, I have always known that." The former footballer's son Calum also visited his father in hospital yesterday.

George Best's agent, Phil Hughes, said he was still "very worried", despite the optimism of medical staff.

The ex-footballer's condition deteriorated severely earlier this week following four weeks of treatment for an infection.

His latest health problems are thought to be related to immuno-suppressant drugs he has been taking since he had a controversial liver transplant in 2002. Best has a well-documented history of alcoholism, and caused anger when he embarked on a drinking binge within months of the transplant operation. He had been told one more drink could kill him and was criticised by a liver specialist for putting people off organ donation.

Speaking at the hospital yesterday, his doctor, Professor Roger Williams, said that a change in medication the night before appeared to be proving effective and had reduced Best's internal bleeding.

He said: "He is a little better. All his measurements are somewhat improved and the bleeding's a little less."

However, he added: "Obviously there is a long way to go and who knows what will happen over the next 24 hours."

Sir Alex said: "Everyone at the club is praying for him.

"He has had a lot of problems over the years. We are all rooting for him and hope he pulls through.

"Everyone has their own opinion about football and their favourite players, but in terms of British players you would find it difficult to think of anyone better."