George Best’s old home in Belfast has been refitted to look like it would have done in the 1960s as the young star was growing up.
The house has been made into a tourist attraction where fans can actually go and stay and live in the same environment as the great Manchester United legend.
Tourism Northern Ireland has helped finance the project and it is expected to attract plenty of fans of both Manchester United and Best himself.
The house is on Burren Way in Belfast. George lived there until he left to join Manchester United aged just 15.
He went on to become the best player of his generation and famously helped United lift the European Cup for the first time in their history in 1968.
Best is considered to be the first ‘celebrity footballer’ as his incredible talent on the pitch and playboy lifestyle off it caught the attention of the media. He was dubbed the ‘fifth Beatle’ during his playing career. He dated beautiful women, drove sports cars, and always attracted the attention of the newspapers.
Best’s celebrity status didn’t fade after he finished playing and he remained a flamboyant character who was always of interest to others.
Tragically, he passed away in 2005 after years of alcohol abuse.
His star still shines bright though and the chance to stay in his childhood home is likely to prove popular with his fans.
The house has been refitted with retro furniture and wallpaper to make it look as it would have done in the 1960s when Best was growing up.
It has also been filled with pieces of memorabilia of Best’s life and career such as school reports and football jerseys.
EastSide Partnership purchased the house in 2011 and have been running it as a self-catering B&B.
However, the transformation back in time is expected to make it a much sought-after accommodation for visitors to Belfast.
Caroline Bell, Funding Manager, Tourism NI said: “Tourism NI is delighted to have provided funding from our Experience Development Programme for this very distinctive and engaging experience associated with one of Northern Ireland’s sporting legends. It will add to the range and quality of visitor experiences in the east of Belfast and meet the increasing demand for local and authentic tourism offerings.”
Chris Armstong from EastSide Partnership said: “George’s father passed away in 2008 and EastSide Partnership was approached in order to maintain the heritage of the place and keep it in the ownership of the people of East Belfast and the Best family.
“We purchased the house in 2011 and ever since we have been running it as self-catering accommodation on AirBnB which has been going brilliantly and we have been welcoming guests from all over the world and it has been a real pleasure to see the impact that it still has today.
“Prior to this year, the house was very much as it was in the early 2000s, which was great as you had a sense of it as it was when George came to visit his dad.
“With lockdown, and a funding opportunity from Tourism NI, we were able to retro refurb the house to the way it would have been decorated in 1961.
“The concept here is that George left Belfast in 1961 as a 15-year-old in order to go and follow his dreams in Manchester, so we have had the idea that he shut the door behind him and as you come in as a visitor you are coming back and opening the door as he left in 1961.”
Chris continued: “Dotted around the house there are old photographs of George’s playing career but there are also personal touches from a family point of view, such as letters he wrote home from Manchester as a young teenager and school reports from Lisnasharragh, Nettlefield and Grosvenor.
“There are also little mementos about George. He was a Wolves fan so we have a Wolves kit in the bedroom and Spartacus posters on the wall and old match day programmes and things like that so there are little hints to his career around the house as well.
“George Best was an iconic footballer and it is amazing what he achieved in his life and career, but I think more than that, he is a symbol of positivity and how you can go and chase your dreams.”
If you would like to find out more or book a stay in the house then visit www.GeorgeBestHouse.com.