The son of Northern Irish football legend George Best has broken his silence about his relationship with his father.
Calum Best has released a book – ‘Second Best: My Dad and Me’ – which reveals that the exploits of alcoholic George left him psychologically damaged.
George used to play for Manchester United and is recognised as one of the world’s greatest ever players. However, he became equally famous for his off-field antics which revolved around alcohol and women.
In Calum’s book he recalls going to Old Trafford, home of United, for the first time when he was 11 years old. He writes: “Everywhere we go, people are treating him like a god; This is the place where he became a legend.”
On that occasion George got carried away and left his son alone in a hotel room all night, not returning until the next day. Calum said: “He doesn’t apologise or act like what he did was anything out of the ordinary, let alone wrong.”
There were many more unsavoury incidents throughout Calum’s adolescence. When he was 13 he flew to London from his home in America to celebrate George’s 50th birthday.
The party was at Stringfellows, a ‘gentleman’s strip club’. However, George had gotten drunk and was unable to attend his own party. Calum did make it and had to be looked after by club owner Peter Stringfellow.
When Calum was 14 his father even accused him of having an affair with his fiancé Alex. Calum had come to see his father but was stuck at home while George was out drinking. He was playing cards with Alex when George burst in and, in a fit of anger, made the accusation.
George told Calum: “F**k off. You’re not my f**king son” and grabbed him by the throat and pinned him against the wall.
A year later, 15-year-old Calum lost his virginity to a friend of one of his father’s old flames. Again, he had only travelled to London to see his father.
Calum says that he isn’t trying to ruin the memory of his father in writing the book, in fact he is still George’s number one fan. However, he needs to finally get his feelings off his chest.
He told the Irish Independent: “I wanted people to know my story. I wanted people to know my journey – what it was like living with my dad and having my dad and alcohol dependency constantly in my relationship. The amount of people who have come out and said to me when this book came out – ‘Thanks for putting a problem to a name’. I didn’t know my dad without alcohol dependency. People would assume that it was a life of fairy tales and butterflies because it is George Best’s son.
“That’s why I have done this story. It is not a story that tries to put my dad down. It is a story that lets people know the truth. It was a constant battle of trying to know a father and trying to build a relationship with someone who is alcohol dependent. That is God damn close to impossible.
“For every good time that we almost have, it is ruined by his drink problem. It has been a constant throughout my whole life. There was never a point in my life where I knew my dad sober and it caused me insecurities, it caused me demons. It is now that I am actually comfortable to talk about it.”
Second Best: My Dad and Me is out now. Available here