The blessed privilege of being there to witness Best's fragile talent

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The Independent Football

There have been many versions of the George Best story, but perhaps none of them were able to commend themselves to a younger generation with quite the weight of his new official work, Blessed, George Best's autobiography (Elbury Press, £17.99).

Some of it makes for uneasy reading, especially for those of us who in the past may have brought a fake romanticism to Best's enthusiastic pursuit of his own destruction. It is, of course, a tragic football story – one rivalled in more recent times only by the premature decline of Paul Gascoigne – but the good news is that the greatest player of his and several other generations has kept his head and his life in sufficient order to give an unvarnished account.

The weight of evidence suggests that Best's alcoholism would have surfaced in any walk of life, and as the years have gone by he has shed much of the old self-pity. George, right up until his recent and most serious medical crisis, has worked assiduously for his own downfall, but he should not lack for takers when he offers that along the way he gave a little pleasure, a little glory.

You may say this is just another story of celebrity gone wrong, but then you can't have seen Best play, you can't have known the terrible beauty of his brief stride across the football stage.

There may be a touch of ambiguity in the title of surely Best's final and most honest statement on his life, but it carries plenty of resonance for anyone who ever saw him play. Blessed we truly were.

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