Fans pay tribute to Best's 'gift from God'

Birmingham manager and former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce was among the first to pay tribute to George Best.

Birmingham manager and former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce was among the first to pay tribute to George Best.

He described the Irishman as one of the greats of the game.

He said: “It is very sad. When you speak to people in Manchester, when they talk of the great players – and in my era it was Beckenbauer, Pele, Cruyff - then George Best always seems to come into the equation.

“If you look at his record at Manchester United, it is incredible. I think he scored 200 odd goals in 400 odd games. He was quite an unbelievable talent. It’s an absolute shame, a tragedy.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the world did not see the best of Best.

He said: “I have not great [memories] of Best at that time, as I did not have access to TV. But I saw flashes and read a lot about him when I was a kid.

“What is amazing when you look back is that he stopped at 28.

“The best years of his career should have come from 28 to 32.

“You can’t believe a player in the world stopping now. It would be like Thierry [Henry] stopping now.”

Charlton manager Alan Curbishley was glad he had seen Best play.

He said: “There are a lot of people out there who know George Best in name only and would never have seen him.

“I know there is a lot of publicity surrounding him over the reason why he was ill, but football people know what he was about and those of us who were lucky enough to see him would know a little bit more.

“People like George Best, with ability like that, come along once upon a time - and we were lucky enough to see him and not a lot of people can say that.

“George Best was one of the greatest players ever seen.”

Former England captain and Motherwell manager Terry Butcher described Best as a “footballing genius”.

He said: “He is a true legend. He was a genius and all the great words you can think of apply to George.

“He was a footballing genius, a real world-class superstar.

“When you see those words mentioned these days they are somewhat diluted and take something from the greats like George.

“He was adored by other fans and people and will always be remembered.”

Tottenham coach Martin Jol added: “I thought he was one of the players in Europe who was special.

"He was a player who could beat three or four people and he was one of the best dribblers in the game.

“It is a big loss for British football. You would have liked to have seen a bit more of him. I mean Johan Cruyff played until he was 37 and even new generations knew him.

“Georgie Best was at his peak when he was 25 or 26 and then the problems started. I was at a testimonial match maybe 10 years ago at QPR and he played in that and he was still fine.

“You never lose your talent if you are that talented. It is about special talent and time on the ball and you can’t train that, it is a gift of God and there’s only a few players like that.”

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