Icons / March 2016

Pitch Perfect: George Best

Wasteful? To an extent. Self-destructive? Massively. Violent? Occasionally. But to call the life of George Best tragic is wide of the mark. His style, meanwhile, was as deft as his…

No footballer has ever embodied the 'Beautiful Game' sobriquet quite like him. David Beckham looks like an Adonis, plies his craft with a balladeer's grace and dresses superbly, but has never been so potent a force on the field and speaks like a Cockney C-3PO. Wayne Rooney can be as devastatingly effective, but plays a rougher, boorish game - as well as looking like he was carved from a giant potato. Pelé and Diego Maradona outshone him - by a fraction - in footballing terms, but are no more style icons than Giorgio Armani is a midfield powerhouse.

George Best, though, was the full package. The man who had it all. And then lost it all. Or so certain commentators, especially those of a sententious nature, would have us believe. But is it fair to write off Northern Ireland's most revered export as nothing more than a fallen hero? Or is that not a little cursory, trite even, to dub his extraordinary life simply 'tragic'? In fact, is there - just maybe - a little dash of wry wisdom in his infamous toast to his own hedonism - 'I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars - the rest I just squandered'?

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Scott Huxley