Ireland and Britain have been in mourning recent days, and lots of other places too, upon the death of great Belfast-born footballer George Best.
How to explain him to an American audience? First, as the Michael Jordan or Babe Ruth of his sport. He was the best football player in his era in his part of the world, and maybe in any part of the world.
As Babe Ruth was a pheomenon way bigger than his sport, George Best was the first superstar of European football. He was known as the " Fifth Beatle " because of his astonishing fame, with a common touch and kindness towards the little people he ran into along the way.
He partied like the Joe Namath, with the glamour and the girls and every guy wanting to be him. But he wound up exactly like NY Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle- a truly great player, whose personal life was destroyed by alcohol. Both destoyed their livers with the drink, both received liver transplants, but both died too young anyway.
But there was a time when George Best was young and happy and beyond great. If you want to see a glimpse of that, see the the video link on this post from United Irelander. I've watched it six times now. Some of the action shots are astonishing. I recommend that you play this bittersweet tribute with the sound up.
From the many George Best postings on other Irish blogs:
A Tangled Web