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Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 13:09 GMT
Best's body flown home for burial
George Best's coffin arrives
Pipers escorted the coffin as it was carried from the plane
The body of footballing legend George Best has been flown back to Northern Ireland for his funeral.

His son Calum and agent Phil Hughes accompanied the coffin on a special flight which arrived at RAF Aldergrove about midday.

Two pipers played a lament as they escorted the coffin, draped in a Manchester United flag.

The coffin has been taken to the family home at Cregagh in east Belfast for the funeral on Saturday morning.

Thousands are expected to line the streets to the Stormont Estate where the public ceremony is being held.

SATURDAY'S EVENTS
Day begins with private blessing at family home in Cregagh estate
Funeral procession heads to Parliament Buildings, Stormont, for public service at 1100 GMT
Big screens relay service to crowds outside
Private burial follows at Roselawn Cemetery

Only close family relatives were allowed access to the airfield to meet the plane carrying the coffin.

The gates of Stormont Estate will open to the public at 0900 GMT on Saturday and close again once the grounds are full.

There will be no parking within two miles of the estate, but park and ride facilities will be available.

These will operate from a number of locations around greater Belfast namely B&Q Holywood Exchange; Ozone Leisure Centre, Ormeau Park and the Dundonald Icebowl.

GEORGE BEST FUNERAL ROUTE
Click to see a map of the route of George Best's funeral cortege.

A private family service will be held on Saturday.

Scheduled bus services will run as usual.

Free car parking will be available at Sydenham Road and Queen's Road and coaches will be able to park at the Billy Neill Soccer Centre on Comber Road.

Members of the public have been asked to follow the directions of stewards and police officers.

The Best family has asked that members of the public stay behind barriers, do not follow the cortege and respect their privacy at Roselawn Cemetery and the family home.

Following a service at Best's family home, 300 invited guests will attend a service in the Great Hall at Stormont.

Thousands are expected to attend George Best's funeral

The coffin will be transported to Stormont grounds by a police escort via Cregagh Road, the Knock dual carriageway, and the Upper Newtownards Road.

The hearse will enter the Stormont grounds at the main gates. It will then proceed along the Prince of Wales Avenue to the Parliament Building and a service will be held in the Great Hall.

The service will be relayed via big screen and loudspeakers to the people in the grounds of the Stormont estate.

After the service, the funeral procession will proceed back down the Prince of Wales Avenue to the cemetery via the Upper Newtownards Road, the Knock dual carriageway and the Ballygowan Road.

STORMONT ESTATE
Click to open a plan of Stormont Estate with public viewing areas.

Fans have been advised to line the cortege route as opposed to trying to get into the Stormont estate which is expected to fill up very quickly.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and former Northern Ireland internationals Pat Jennings, Gerry Armstrong and Martin O'Neill are expected to attend.

England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and Best's Manchester United team-mate Denis Law will also be among the mourners.

The ceremony will be led by TV presenter and Manchester United supporter Eamonn Holmes.

Popular Belfast singers Brian Kennedy and Peter Corry will perform.

Best is to be buried beside his mother, Ann, in the family plot in Roselawn cemetery.

It is expected to be one of the biggest funerals ever seen in Northern Ireland, with thousands of people expected to line the route.

BBC News Interactive will be streaming live funeral programmes on Saturday morning. BBC Newsline's special coverage goes out on BBC One Northern Ireland at 0930 GMT and BBC Radio Ulster coverage starts at 0955 GMT.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Report: The BBC's Denis Murray



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