| Best has returned to his drinking ways
London: Former Manchester United and Northern Ireland winger George Best was arrested after a pub brawl at the weekend amid reports that he has started drinking again.
His wife Alex, 30, told The Mail on Sunday: “No one wants to be an alcoholic and I’m sure George didn’t want to start drinking again. But he has said he has been finding it so difficult.”
She added: “The last week has been hell. He seems to be on a mission to self-destruct and it’s getting worse.”
Best, 57, was detained along with a 31-year-old man at the Chequers Hotel in Walton-on-the-Hill near his home about 30 km south of London.
Police said the pair were arrested on suspicion of assault and taken to Reigate police station but released without charge. “No further action will be taken,” a Surrey police spokeswoman said.
The News of the World said in its early editions on Sunday that Best had become involved in a brawl at the hotel. On its front page it showed a picture of him getting into a police car.
Best had a liver transplant last year after decades of alcohol abuse. In recent interviews he had proudly told of the new lease of life the operation had given him.
Born in Belfast in 1946, Best captivated the football world in a sparkling 10-year career at United from 1963 to 1973, inspiring them to their 1968 European Cup triumph.
He was European Footballer of the Year that season but a hectic showbusiness lifestyle — he was dubbed ‘the fifth Beatle’ — took its toll on one of the game’s most gifted players.
He announced his retirement in 1972, but returned to football the following year, playing for clubs such as Fulham, Hibernian, Stockport County, Cork Celtics and Dunstable Town.
He also had spells with American clubs the Los Angeles Aztecs, Fort Lauderdale Strikers and San Jose Earthquakes until he finally hung up his boots in 1983.