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George Best on a ventilator, not looking good

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  • George Best on a ventilator, not looking good

    LONDON -- Former soccer star George Best, who had a lifesaving liver transplant three years ago, was put on a ventilator Thursday and is fighting for his life.

    The condition of the 59-year-old Best, who has been in the intensive care unit for a month, deteriorated dramatically Wednesday.

    Dr. Roger Williams, in charge of the Best's care at Cromwell Hospital, said the Manchester United great had internal bleeding, most likely from his bowel, but his problems were not linked to his new liver. Williams said Best was stable and was last conscious Wednesday morning.

    "All one can say is that the bleeding, we think, is easing -- but he is very seriously ill on a ventilator," Williams said. "Quite what will happen over the next 24 hours is difficult to say. He could pull through or he could get worse."

    Williams said Best was "fully aware" of his situation. The doctor added that Best was admitted to the hospital with a chest infection that has spread to his kidneys and other organs.

    Williams declined to comment on the likelihood of Best recovering.

    "I can't give you his chances," he said. "I've looked after him for a long time. I always hope for the best. I'm always an optimistic doctor for my patients and we're not giving up on him.

    Best collapsed because of serious liver damage in 2000 and the next year was hospitalized with pneumonia. In 2002 he had a transplant and was told never to drink again, but returned to his old ways.

    Best scored 180 goals for Manchester United and helped the club win the 1968 European Cup. In 1984, he served two months in jail for drunken driving. In 2004, he was banned from driving for 20 months after another conviction.

    Best also played in the now-defunct North American Soccer League for Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale and San Jose.

    Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press

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    • #3
      George Best was laid to rest in grand fashion.

      His best line most appropriately described him..."I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars," he once said. "The rest I just squandered."

      BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) - His casket draped in a Northern Ireland soccer flag, George Best received a farewell Saturday from more than 100,000 fans lining the streets in this country's biggest display of public mourning.

      The 59-year-old former star for Manchester United, who died Nov. 25 after decades of alcohol abuse, was given a state-style funeral inside Stormont Parliamentary Building on a hill overlooking the city.

      The body of George Best is carried during his Saturday funeral in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Thousands paid respects to the former Manchester United star. (Matt Dunham / Associated Press)

      Mourners, many too young to have seen Best in his 1960s heyday, lined the 3-mile route from his family home in Protestant east Belfast. They applauded and tossed bouquets and soccer scarves into the path of the hearse, which bore floral wreaths reading "Legend," "George" and "Dad."

      Former United teammates and ex-Northern Ireland players carried the coffin up Stormont's steps for a service televised live throughout Britain and Ireland. It featured tearful poems from son Calum and tributes from best friend Bobby McAlinden and former teammate Denis Law. Two London doctors who helped keep him alive after a 2002 liver transplant also spoke.

      Best was to be buried at Roselawn Cemetery on the Belfast outskirts alongside his mother, Ann, whose life also was cut short by alcoholism.

      Law combined up front with Best and Bobby Charlton on the Manchester United team that won the Champions Cup, the year Best was crowned European Footballer of the Year. He recalled how his friendship with Best blossomed once they both reached their 30s and frequently took trips together.

      Law affectionately remembered Best's habit of failing to keep appointments or showing up sober.

      "I can't count the number of times he let me down," he said. "He didn't turn up, or he did turn up — and wasn't on this planet."

      But Law said Best's legendary charm would win him over. After one night on a trip to Portugal, Law said he found Best in the hotel bar the next morning.

      "There he was sitting in the bar, with a cheeky smile on his face, glass in hand. Before I could say anything, he'd said: 'Hey little man, I've just ordered you a nice pot of tea'," Law recounted.

      At the request of the Best family, 10 fans were picked at random from the crowd outside to join about 300 family members, friends and dignitaries packed to capacity in the Grand Hall of Stormont. Those outside on a wet and chilly day followed the ceremony on three giant TV screens. Many mourners had traveled overnight from England and the Republic of Ireland.

      Best joined Man United at 17 and became a phenomenon with his effortless pace, dribbling and guile that left defenders in his wake. With rock-star looks and a hearty appetite for partying, Best walked away from the game in 1972 to run nightclubs, fashion shops and other ill-fated business ventures.

      "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars," he once said. "The rest I just squandered."

      He returned to soccer, largely to regain the money he had lost, pursuing assignments in the now-defunct North American Soccer League and with Hibernian in Scotland. He lost the Hibernian job after missing two games because of hangovers.

      Best made 37 international appearances for Northern Ireland. But the team had few other stars and Best played in neither the World Cup nor the European Championship.

      Calum, Best's only child from the first of his two failed marriages, reduced many to tears as he read two poems, one of them mailed to Best's family home from a local woman only the night before.

      "The golden days, they went so fast," the son said. "The precious times, why can't they last?"[/b][/quote]
      Sponsor of Alex Pieterangelo.

      ..."I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered." George Best