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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Legend Best fighting for his life
George Best
George Best received a liver transplant in 2002
Football legend George Best's condition has deteriorated and he is fighting for his life in intensive care.

The ex-Manchester United and Northern Ireland star is seriously ill but stable, his consultant said.

Best has a chest infection and internal bleeding but is "still fighting away", Professor Roger Williams said.

The 59-year-old, who has spent three weeks in Cromwell Hospital in west London, had a liver transplant in 2002 after well-documented drink problems.

His condition worsened significantly on Wednesday, but after a reasonable night he is stable in intensive care, Prof Williams said.

He said the patient is being sedated while on a ventilator, but could be taken off it later on Thursday.

Previously Best had been "fully aware" of the seriousness of the situation, Prof Williams said.

"He wasn't in good spirits. He was very depressed, but is still fighting away, as he always does.

"We are just hoping we can control the bleeding."

GEORGE BEST'S HEALTH
March 2000: Severe liver damage diagnosed
February 2001: Treated for pneumonia
April 2001: Anti-alcohol pellets implanted into his stomach
July 2002: Undergoes liver transplant
November 2004: Routine operation to check on liver transplant
October 2005: Treated for kidney infection in intensive care

He said patients in intensive care for long periods often developed internal bleeding.

"You try to find if there's a source of the bleeding. We haven't found a particular source [in Best's case]."

Ex-wife Alex Best said: "I am just praying that, once again, he somehow manages to pull through against all the odds. My thoughts and prayers are with him."

Son Callum told the BBC that his father's condition was "touch and go".

Best's agent, Phil Hughes, brought him to the private hospital earlier this month to be treated for flu-like symptoms including shortness of breath.

The ex-footballer developed a kidney infection and has not left the hospital. He was admitted to intensive care.

Drinking bouts

Prof Williams, responsible for Best's care since his transplant, said that infection was not directly related to his problems with alcohol.

But he said he would have been more susceptible to the illness due to medication to suppress the immune system and prevent his body rejecting a new liver.

George Best
Best scored 178 goals in 466 appearances for Manchester United
At the time, the consultant would not say whether Best had been drinking again, although he said Best's failure to give up alcohol following his operation three years ago had caused concerns.

"We're disappointed, there's been these awful bouts of drinking which have gone on and he's had all these other sorts of social problems," he said.

Best was arguably the most naturally gifted British footballer of his generation.

He made his professional debut for Manchester United in 1963, aged 17, and helped the club become the first English side to lift the European Cup in 1968.

Best was voted both English and European Footballer of the Year that season and also won 37 caps for Northern Ireland.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
More about George Best's condition




SEE ALSO:
Best 'healthy' after liver test
23 Nov 04 |  Northern Ireland
Best banned for drink driving
02 Feb 04 |  England


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