Everybody knows the story of George Best. The shy boy from Belfast with the film star looks who made his debut for United at the age of 17 (going straight from the A team into the first team), became the first pop star footballer, and lost his battle with alcoholism at the age of 59.
George Best All By Himself, which was broadcast on BBC1 on Sunday evening, is a feature film length documentary which tells the story of his brilliant football career, his premature retirement, and decline and fall.
It features interviews with friends, agents, wives, girlfriends, and players, and footage from his greatest games showing his sublime footballing skills. The clips include some of his most memorable performances including Benfica in 1966 and that goal in the 1968 European Cup Final.
They say the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And that was certainly true of George Best.
By the age of 22 he had won the league title, European Cup, and European Player of the Year award and realised things couldn’t get any better. And, as we all know, they didn’t.
In the words of Paddy Crerand, it all went downhill like a toboggan.
The film doesn’t tell us much we didn’t already know about him. But that doesn’t matter, otherwise there’d be no point watching the remake of a film or a new production of a play we’ve already seen.
It’s not the story which matters but how it’s told. And this beautifully made film tells the story wonderfully and movingly.
It shows George at his best and his worst – but mostly his best, which is how we like to remember him. It’s well worth an hour and a half of your time.
You can watch it here.