Footballing legend George Best is said to be close to death and is no longer receiving treatment to keep him alive.
His doctor, Professor Roger Williams, said he had expected to wake up to be told the ex-Manchester United and Northern Ireland star died overnight.
"It is very surprising and he's a very strong man in many ways," he said.
Best, 59, has multiple organ failure following internal bleeding. He was admitted to Cromwell Hospital, west London, on 1 October with flu symptoms.
Professor Williams told Five Live Breakfast: "He's not experiencing pain. He's on a ventilator. He's sedated.
"He has a low blood pressure and sadly this must come to an end over the next few hours - I'd be very surprised if it didn't."
Another member of the medical team, Dr Akeel Alisa, said: "It is just a case of waiting now and making him comfortable. I would like him to survive another day, but it is not likely.
"He has multiple organ failure and this is causing abnormalities in his blood. The family have been here throughout the night - they have been very brave."
When Best's closest relatives arrived at the hospital on Thursday, they asked the gathered media not to film or photograph them as they went in.
Portsmouth Football Club chairman Milan Mandaric, a close friend of Best, said: "It's not easy for them - Calum [Best's son] loves his Dad; they are all good people like George."
After visiting Best in hospital, Mr Mandaric told reporters: "What is a shame is that people who don't know George don't know what a great man he is. He's got a large heart.
"I just want George to still be around, that would be my hope."
Former team-mates Sir Bobby Charlton and Denis Law also visited the hospital on Thursday.
Best suffered a kidney infection and internal bleeding last month, then his condition deteriorated sharply last Friday with a lung infection.
Things looked more positive earlier this week when he was taken off sedation and regained consciousness.
But his condition deteriorated once more with the development of internal bleeding between 0100 and 0200 GMT on Wednesday.
Drugs needed after a liver transplant in 2002 had made the recovering alcoholic more susceptible to infection.
Best helped Manchester United win the European Cup in 1968 - the first English club to do so - and he was European Footballer of the Year that season.
His style captivated football fans around the world but his playboy lifestyle degenerated into alcoholism and bankruptcy.