George Best still on life support as he battles severe infection

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The Independent Football

The family of George Best were gathered around his bedside last night as the football legend fought for his life.

The 59-year-old was on a life support machine at London's Cromwell Hospital battling what his doctor had described as "a new and severe infection".

He was placed on the machine on Friday night after yet another deterioration in his health. His latest problem is believed to be a lung infection.

Best was first admitted to the hospital in west London last month and, until recently, his condition had been improving.

But Best's doctor, Professor Roger Williams, said yesterday that the ex-Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer had suffered a "big setback" in his battle to recover from illness brought on by years of heavy alcohol abuse.

Yesterday, Jeffrey Brandon, a spokesman for the hospital, said: "Mr Best remains seriously ill in intensive care on a life-support machine. He was put on it some time last night or yesterday evening after his condition worsened."

Dr Akeel Alisa, assistant to Professor Williams, who has been treating Mr Best, said his patient remained in a critical but stable condition.

Dr Alisa said: "He remains in the intensive care department and we are following all medical avenues to try to keep him stable."

Phil Hughes, Best's agent and friend, said his two sisters, Barbara and Carol, were at his bedside. as were his two brother-in-laws, Norman and Alan, and his brother Ian.

Mr Best's son Calum was at the hospital for five hours yesterday. As he left he said: "I would like to thank all the well-wishers. It means a lot to me and my family."