George Best, former Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer, has died at the far too early age of 59.
I can understand the points of people who criticise Best for what
happened in his later life. Like all of us, he wasn’t perfect – not a
saint, not a martyr. He made plenty of mistakes along the way, some of
them bad ones. And he got punished for them, too, both by the courts
and by the media and general public. In that sense, George did his time
for the mistakes he made.
But the immediate aftermath of
someone’s death, especially relatively young (what age is 59 to die
these days?) it’s time to remember and pay tribute to the good things
of a person’s life. That doesn’t give someone forgiveness for the
mistakes they made, but it means giving thanks for the better part of
And for football lovers, the better parts of
George’s life were also some of the better parts of theirs. We are
lucky that he came to football at a time when the cameras were common
in grounds, so even those who never saw him play in person can
understand just how good he was. In his playing days, he brought
enormous joy even to those who’s teams he was taking apart with
George was enormously talented, so much so
in fact that no matter how much he drank and no matter how many parties
he went too, he still couldn’t squander it all. No team in the history
of the game wouldn’t find a place for him. At the end of his life,
let’s remember that.