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Last Updated: Saturday, 26 November 2005, 11:47 GMT
The day I met George Best
Thousands of people have sent emails to the BBC News website to pay tribute to George Best.

Many mention his legendary football career and others his sense of humour and warmth. Several readers recall their impressions of George Best on the day they met him.

George Best

Jane Godwin was George Best's hairdresser and he took a keen interest in her son's footballing exploits.

When I first cut his hair, my hands did shake a bit. I told him that this was the first time I'd cut the hair of a superstar.

He was almost embarrassed, very quiet and withdrawn, very shy. But he became open and warm as I got to know him.

He took a real interest in my son Alex and his football. He always asked me how he got on. There was one particular week that my son got a yellow card and I was horrified.

He just laughed and said, "Oh, that's nothing. You don't want to know anything about what I've got over the years."

One Christmas Alex sent him a present. It was a chocolate footballer with a No.7 and it said, "You're the best".

He opened it and he didn't smile, his eyes almost filled with tears. I felt very sad for him then.

One day, I told him about a breast cancer fundraising event I was hosting with a friend. He took the details and said he'd see what he was up to. I never expected to see him there.

But on the day, Alex was looking out of the window and suddenly shouted out, "Mum, George Best is on the drive!"

He stayed for an hour, drinking only a glass of sparkling water. He joined in the quiz and even got one of the football questions wrong.

My son is so sad right now. George Best touched our lives and he was a lovely person .

George Best
Meg Williams worked in a bar on the Thames that George Best used to frequent.

I met George while I was working at a pub on the Thames. He used to come in on Saturday afternoons for about a year.

The thing that sticks in my mind is that he always made time for anyone who came up to him - and that was a steady stream from the moment he got there.

He would often help us out collecting glasses and clearing ashtrays if we got a rush.

He asked for our names the first time he came in and he never forgot them, much to the surprise of one of the barmen who thought it would be funny to sneak off and leave me on my own in the middle of a busy summer afternoon - the look on his face was priceless and he never snuck off again.

He would always treat us with respect and involve us in conversations which made an otherwise boring shift highly enjoyable.

I feel proud to have known him even if it was only for a short time. He was always genuine and fun to be around.

Alan Donnelly met George Best in 1965, before he shot to fame.

In 1965 I was 15 and he was just a couple of years older.

The Manchester scene was more coffee bars - none of us used to drink back then - and George used to come into The Can Can which was a very famous bar off Fountain Street.

He used to go there, like me, two or three times a week and sit about with his friends.

It was before he was really famous, but there was a real buzz around him already. He was a raw recruit and very unworldly, I don't think he was even really playing for the first team at that time.

He had a strong Irish brogue and was sometimes hard to understand but he was friendly and used to say "how are you" when I saw him. He was a nice quiet young boy and a pretty ordinary guy.

It was no big deal seeing him back then, there weren't any fans clamouring to speak to him, but back then a cup of coffee was a shilling so things have certainly changed!

John Young exchanged a few laughs with George Best in 1982 at his favourite watering hole.

I was having my usual liquid lunch at my local pub. We were all standing outside enjoying a particularly fine summer day, when a car pulled up and George Best got out.

I remember it was around the time when he had just broken up with Miss World. We shouted for him to come over and to our surprise, he did.

With that great impish grin on his face, he sauntered over and said, "'I can't stay long lads, I have to be somewhere".

He had a chat with us, answered a few questions, had a good laugh. Most of it was football questions, talk about his girlfriend. It was light-hearted boy talk.

He was so generous, so warm and he must have been going through hell. He told a few jokes, shook us all by the hand and left.

We were all stunned. We don't expect anybody of that stature to do that.

We all followed his exploits on and off the field. But he had no ego, no conceit. He was just a lovely bloke, one of the boys.

A real superstar.

When Dean Fraser-Phillips came face-to-face with his idol he could only ask him, "Are you George Best?"

I met George three times by chance. The most memorable encounter was in a small bar just off the King's road in the late 1990s.

I was in London doing a bit of Christmas shopping. We walked in for a quick pint to a small but packed pub.

As we started our drinks the barmaid came up to me and asked "Are you press?" I jokingly replied, "Why is the Queen here?"

I was bemused but wondered who famous was in the bar.

An hour later, as we were ready to leave, I saw George Best in the corner. I didn't know what to say as I was there face-to-face with my idol. So I said probably the most stupid thing to ever leave my lips "Hey, are you George Best?"

"Last time I looked," came the reply.

I spent the next 15 minutes chatting to the greatest football player ever.

He was not drunk, in fact I don't even think he was drinking alcohol. Yet we talked about Scotland and England and the state of the Premiership. It was a great day.

When I was younger my teacher asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"

"George Best," was my reply.

Having met him, 24 years on, I stand by that.

Dave Davis met George Best when he walked into a Christmas party in 2003 and recalls his charm on the occasion.

We were having our Christmas do at a pub just outside Petersfield when George Best happened to walk in.

I was at the bar at the time buying my wife a drink. I said, "My God, it's George Best". He was just two feet away from me.

You don't want to impose on the man but he was George Best. It's like Muhammad Ali walking in. I said, "Hi" and he was happy to talk.

I saw him as a lad when he played against Southampton. He was teasing the defender. It was a guy called McGrath, who looked like something from a horror movie. Eventually, George bent down, picked up the ball and gave it to him.

He actually remembered the game.

I can remember him smiling at me that night and it was so infectious you wanted to smile with him.

For me it was an absolute pleasure and he was an absolute gentleman. He realised that we were having a Christmas do and he said that he'd just sit at the back and stay out of people's way.

It was memorable. He made my Christmas.


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