Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballing greats are to carry George Best’s coffin, it was confirmed tonight.
The soccer icon’s lifelong friend Denis Law and ex-international manager Billy Bingham will be among the pallbearers at Saturday’s funeral in Belfast.
Harry Gregg, who played with Best for both club and country, Derek Dougan, Peter McParland and Gerry Armstrong are also to take his body up to the steps of Parliament Buildings, Stormont.
After a handover Calum Best, the star’s son, other relatives and close friends will take the coffin into the Great Hall for a memorial service attended by family and VIP guests including England manager Sven Goran Eriksson.
Best’s brother Ian, agent Phil Hughes, Dr Akeel Alisa, who treated Best at Cromwell Hospital in London, and brothers-in-law Norman McNarry and Alan McPherson have also been confirmed.
The body will rest under a statue of Lord Craigavon, Northern Ireland’s first Prime Minister who is buried in the grounds of Stormont.
It is understood Calum will read from an anonymous poem as part of an emotional service led by television celebrity Eammon Holmes featuring school choirs, readings and performances from Belfast singers Brian Kennedy and Peter Corry.
Ex-wives Angie and Alex, along with his last partner, Ros Hollidge, are also expected to attend.
Up to half a million fans will line the three mile route from the home of Best’s father Dickie, on the Cregagh estate, to Stormont.
His body will be taken from there to Roselawn Cemetery on the hills overlooking east Belfast, where the sporting legend is to be buried beside his mother Ann.
As the city prepared for the closest to a state funeral ever seen in Northern Ireland, floral tributes began to arrive.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who will both be represented at the event, are due to send wreaths.
Sir Elton John has already had flowers delivered as a mark of respect for his close friend.