Friday, November 25, 2005

Simply the Best

"I think I've found you a genius", said Matt Busby's talent scout in a Belfast phonebox after seeing George Best at age 15. Three years later he was the world's first footballing superstar. In 50 years of mass-media football, the only experts that play him down are the ones who argue that Pele might - just - have been a touch faster.

George had simple raw, untaught talent. A natural. Earlier today, he passed into the hereafter, and the world is a poorer place.

Sadly, though, his talent was not matched with the character to handle the rewards it brought, and those rewards were, ultimately, his downfall. Alcoholism brought him and his family full-scale misery, exemplified by his famous bitter-sweet quotation: "I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered".

Here's the most insightful write-up I've seen on George's life and talent*. Give it a quick read, it's better than I could write here.

Truth is: we're all born with skills we neither asked nor worked for. The Big challenge is to handle them well. There will be some who mock George for his weakness, but none of us know the whole story. Could I have handled all that fame and money if I had his background and an alcoholic tendency? I can't be sure. I'm just trying to manage my own set of problems and skills, such as they are. But it's nice to enjoy the talent of others, and George added a lot of light and inspiration across Ireland.

* UPDATE: See here as well.


At 3:34 p.m., Anonymous Alison said...

Good post.

And also below about the OTR legislation also :(

At 7:36 p.m., Anonymous maca said...

The man was a legend but he was given a new chance at life in 2002 and pissed it away. I'm mixed between feeling sad at the passing of a football great and feeling nothing at the passing of a drunk who wasted a good liver.

At 3:19 p.m., Anonymous Aileen said...


George Best was a flawed individual and arguably his own worst enemy. I am just glad that I have not had the curse of alchoholism visited on me. If it was and I had the chance of a lifeline offered by a transplant. I would take it too. Even if the disease had such a hold on me that I succumbed again.


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