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Last Updated: Monday, 14 July, 2003, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Doctor warns on Best's drinking
George Best
Best made a television pledge never to drink again
George Best's doctor Professor Roger Williams has warned it would be disastrous if the soccer legend continued to drink.

The former Northern Ireland and Manchester United star's wife Alex has confirmed he has started drinking again, despite warnings he could die.

Professor Williams, who supervised Best's liver transplant, said: "It is dangerous in that if he really went on drinking, relapsing heavily, then the graft would become damaged and that, of course, would be a disaster."

But the doctor said he thought Best's behaviour could be a temporary lapse from which he could recover.

The only person that can help him is George himself
Tommy Docherty
"He did not drink at all for a year before the transplant and when I first saw him, he stopped drinking although there were occasional lapses, and that is what people are like when they have this condition," he said.

Best, who was relaxing with his wife in his garden on Monday, told reporters he was "feeling good" but refused to talk about his drinking.

The landlord of a nearby pub, Mark Noble-Campbell, confirmed that Best had started to drink alcohol in his bar, but said he had never caused any trouble.

"He had a couple of white wine spritzers, but he has never been over the top," Mr Noble-Campbell said.

"He has been a role model as far as the customers are concerned."

Former Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty said he was "saddened" by the news that Best had been drinking.

"The tragedy is that he is a smashing lad and I just felt when he got the transplant and was on the mend, he had cracked it," Mr Docherty said.

"I think he can see the standard of football today and the standard of player he was and the money that they are getting today.

"So, in many cases as well, he is thinking of what might have been and what could be."

Mr Docherty said the answer to the football star's problems lay within himself.

"The only person that can help him is George himself."

Wife's sorrow

Best's agent Phil Hughes said the former player's 30-year-old wife felt "very sorry for George because it is just a horrible condition which he has been fighting for three years now".

He denied she was angry with her husband for drinking, but said: "She is absolutely furious [with the pub for serving him].

"She has not had words because it would not help the situation.

"You cannot go down there screaming and shouting, it is only going to embarrass [George]," he said.

"It is a very difficult situation. [Alex] has devoted her life, the best part of it, to George. It is very upsetting for her."

Asked whether Alex would appeal to landlords across the country not to serve George, Mr Hughes said: "I would have thought a responsible person would refuse to serve George."

Mr Hughes said Mr Best seemed to be socialising with a new group of friends who had "not been helping him".

Pub brawl

The soccer legend was arrested on Saturday after an alleged scuffle with a press photographer.

Mr Best, vowed never to drink alcohol after a life-saving liver transplant last year.

Police said a 31-year-old man was also arrested at the Chequers Hotel in Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, Surrey, on Saturday evening.

Surrey police said both men were arrested on suspicion of assault causing actual bodily harm and taken to Reigate police station but were later released without charge.

A police spokesman said: "No further action is envisaged by Surrey police."


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"The landlord confirmed Best had started to drink alcohol but never caused any trouble"



SEE ALSO:
George Best back in hospital
19 Aug 02  |  UK News
Best: First of the superstars
14 Jul 03  |  Football
George Best: Me and my liver
07 Oct 02  |  4x4 Reports



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