Blessed: The Autobiography

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9780091880934: Blessed: The Autobiography

George Best needs little introduction. A legend in his own lifetime, he is undoubtedly the greatest footballer the UK has ever produced. At his peak he brought glamour and grace to the game, second only in the world to Pele. But with success and fame came excess and foolhardiness, and Best's fabled story is littered with tales of his involvement with women and sex and, of course, the drink. Now he is ready to open his heart and engage his readers in the story of his life. This is the frank and honest account of a man who has hit rock bottom on many occasions and who is now prepared to look back and assess his rollercoaster life. In his own words, he recounts the halcyon days at Manchester United, the big games, and European Cup win of 1968. His views on the state of the game then and now, and the key players and managers at Manchester United, are included. And he also tells of the heatbreak at his mother's death, of battles with his ex-wife Angie, and the string of affairs and scandals that have followed him from the bars to the bankruptcy courts, and even to prison. George has kept extensive diaries whilst in rehab, which are shown here.

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Review:

The question of how a man could have everything and be systematically destroyed by alcoholism is at the heart of George Best's unflinching autobiography Blessed. In 1990, Best--arguably the most extravagantly talented footballer the UK has ever produced; certainly domestic football's first and brightest superstar--irrevocably redefined himself in the public's mind as a bloated, foul-mouthed, pitiful drunk with that appearance on the prime-time TV chat show Wogan.

The pictures tell at least part of the story. The young Beatle-haired Best of the 1960s at Manchester United; the scrawny boy from Northern Ireland, breathtakingly audacious with the ball at his feet, dismantling Europe's finest defences. The ever-more chubby, bearded Best of the 1970s, after his shock "retirement" at 26, exercising his increasingly elusive talent with second-rate teams. The Best of today: mottled, grey, eyes now tinted with jaundice and seemingly sharing the general sense of surprise that he's still here at all.

Now Best is able to candidly reflect on the story of his rise and fall. He revels in the highs, which were spectacular: a brilliant career with Man Utd, including a European Cup medal; a media darling, with a Miss World or two on his arm. But he also calmly recounts the lows: a litany of professional and domestic woe, including that public humiliation on Wogan.

The worst thing was that I thought I'd got away with it, that though I might have been a bit tipsy, I had come across as reasonably coherent. But when I saw the recording the following day, it was obvious that I had been completely out of it ... it's awful to see yourself coming across as some mumbling drunk.

Now of course Best makes his living with after-dinner speaking and TV punditry, and--despite the co-author here--Blessed reveals an easy authority with words which turns a compelling testimony into a funny, moving and deeply personal story. This is extra-time for Best, an astonishing sporting talent that was snuffed out. If he survives, with the spirit that imbues this book intact, he may yet astonish us again. --Alex Hankin

Review:

'Brilliantly Raw' -- Sunday Times

'Unquestionably the greatest' -- Sir Alex Ferguson

'Where this book differs from the others - and there have been a few - is in Best's attempts to face his demons' -- Michael Parkinson, Daily Telegraph

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George Best
Published by Random House UK (2001)
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Best, George
Published by Random House UK (2001)
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