A unique tribute for a unique sporting hero: Long [South Belfast News]

In many ways, George Best was very like this part of the world. On his good days he was a genius, but one who never lost his friendliness or humility. On his bad days however, he could be just a wee bit difficult. It is because of both of these – his very human brilliance, and his very human failings – that everyone here has been so touched by the passing of a truly human hero. We now turn our attention to the practicalities of how we provide a fitting memorial to our greatest cultural icon.

George was a man of Castlereagh, and he was already a freeman of his home borough. It is quite possible that a Council building, a main local road, or even an airport will now be named after him. But this is merely standard stuff – and George was more than a standard hero.

What is required is something unique. That opportunity rests just over six years away. For what better tribute could there be to George Best than the completion of a new stadium in time to host matches at the 2012 Olympics? These matches – an event, not just a piece of concrete – would surely provide the most fitting way to remember the UK’s and Ireland’s most talented ever soccer star.

We need to act quickly to ensure the construction of the new stadium in that time. 2012 already offers a tremendous tourism and leisure opportunity for Belfast, with the UK hosting the Olympics alongside huge projects planned for the 100th anniversary of the Titanic. Now it offers the greatest opportunity of all, the chance to showcase George Best’s talents via the very thing he wanted to be remembered for – soccer.

George Best brought us in this area of the world together during his life. Let us come together again to provide the most fitting possible memorial to that life. Let us ensure we have an event in 2012 that proves the best possible tribute to a true legend of our era.

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