By Celia Walden
Bloomsbury, $16.00, 254 pages
While playing for Manchester United (a very good team then and a world-class team now) George Best was named European Footballer of the Year. Growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, George was signed to play for United at 15 years of age. What should have been a glorious life of achievement and fame sadly became a downward spiral into alcoholism. His good looks and charisma kept him in the media throughout his life.
“I spent 90 percent of my money on women, drink and fast cars. The rest I wasted.”
After reading this book by author Celia Walden I am not sure why it was even written. George has run away, again, from his second wife, and is in Malta “drinking his way through Sliema.” The author is told by her editor to track him down and get an exclusive story. We learn that Antabuse tablets are sewn into the lining of his stomach, which causes George to have to throw up in the bathroom after he drinks. The book tediously wanders through several months of George’s bizarre behavior as he switches from a happy, genial drunk to an aggressive, angry, scary guy. Towards the end of the book it is evident that George is winding down. Always a charmer, he tells the author, “I never loved anyone as much as I love a drink.”
George Best died at the age of 59 on November 25, 2005. His place in football history is summed up by the quote, “Maradana good; Pelé better; George Best.”
Reviewed by Brian Taylor