Low points of a life played out

SOCCER legend George Best’s highs and lows have always been played out in the public spotlight.

He has said the “lowest point of his life” came in 1984, when he served two months of a 12-week jail term for drink-driving, assault on police and jumping bail.

Here is a timeline of his more recent highly-publicised problems.

March 2000: Best is taken to London’s Cromwell hospital with suspected liver failure after suffering “severe stomach pains”.

Doctors diagnose severe liver damage caused by years of alcoholism, and he is told he can never drink again. He spends several weeks in hospital and vows to give up drinking.

July 2000: His specialist, Professor Roger Williams, confirms the star has hit the bottle again after a “stressful incident”, reported to have been an argument with his wife Alex.

The doctor begs every barman in Britain to refuse to serve Best alcohol in a bid to help him beat his addiction.

February 2001: Best is back in hospital suffering from pneumonia.

March 2001: His agent Phil Hughes says he is back on the booze despite warnings that it could kill him.

April 2001: Best has anti-alcohol pellets, which make a person physically sick if they touch a drop, implanted into his stomach.

July 2002: He has a life-saving liver transplant and is criticised by a liver specialist for putting people off organ donation.

July 2003: Best goes on a very public drinking binge at a pub near the luxury cottage he shares with his wife in Reigate, Surrey, which culminates in his arrest on suspicion of assault. He is later released without charge.

August 2003: Trouble flares when the couple take a romantic holiday in Malta.

Reports claim Best has been having an affair with blonde Paula Shapland and Alex has left their hotel feeling “betrayed and angry”.

Best, who is also pictured drinking during the holiday, later returns to England alone while Alex goes on holiday to Spain with friends.

September 2003: Alex announces that she is separating from Best.

Alex, then 31, said would be living apart from Best but would continue to support him.

She is regularly photographed without her wedding ring but the couple are reunited shortly afterwards and she moves back into their marital home.

November 2003: Best is reported to have smashed up Alex’s car causing thousands of pounds worth of damage, after flying into a jealous rage.

December 2003: Best spends 10 hours under arrest in connection with an alleged assault but is released without charge.

February 2004: He is banned from the road for 20 months for drink-driving, and is also fined £1,500 (€2,200) and ordered to pay £55 (€80) prosecution costs.

He pleads guilty to driving while more than twice the limit following a furious restaurant showdown with his son Calum.

April 2004: Best and Alex are granted a “quickie” divorce.

November 2004: Best is said to be “doing fine” after an operation to check on his life-saving liver transplant.

Later that month he says is feeling fit and hopes to “carry on for a long time”.

Mr Hughes says the test results had come back “absolutely fine” and the transplant will last 20 to 30 years if Best does not drink.

June 2005: Best’s lover Ros Hollidge is cautioned by police for an alleged assault on him, reportedly after he has been drinking.

Best sports two black eyes after the disturbance at the home of the 37-year-old.

June 2005: Best is questioned over an allegation that he punched a woman, a friend of his ex-lover Gina Devivo, spending more than nine hours at a police station in Staines.

It later emerges the soccer legend had also been questioned about an alleged indecent assault on a girl under 13.

Best vehemently denied both of those allegations.

July 2005: Police say they will not take any further action against Best over the allegations.

October 2005: Best was in intensive care in the private Cromwell Hospital in west London.

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