Charlton, Law and Eusebio champion Best

November 25, 2005

The announcement of George Best's death on Friday was quickly followed by a wave of tributes from all over the world as fans, players and administrators acclaimed him as one of the greatest talents to grace the game.

'Manchester United's glorious history has been created by people like George Best,' said Bobby Charlton, who spent almost 10 years alongside him at Old Trafford.

'Anyone who witnessed what George could do on the pitch wished they could do the same. He made an immense contribution to the game, and enriched the lives of everyone that saw him play.

'It is a very sad day. Football has lost one of its greats.'

United also issued a statement saying: 'George Best was one of the greatest footballers of all time. Naturally athletic, tough, confident and blessed with genius, his career was one of the brightest stars of its generation. His gifts were legendary.

'For the goals, the audacious dribbles and all the wonderful memories, Manchester United and its legions of fans worldwide will always be grateful. We feel a deep sense of loss but his spirit and his talent will live on forever.'

Denis Law, speaking outside the London hospital where Best spent his final hours, told reporters: 'It's an extremely sad day for the Best family ... and it was just a matter of time really, it was not 'if' it was 'when' that things wouldn't go right.

'In the long run, after knowing him for such a long time, I think it's the best thing. He would have been slightly like a vegetable and he wouldn't have liked that.

'It's awful to say, but in a way, it was a blessing,' added Law, who played alongside Best in United's glory days of the late 1960s.

Portuguese legend Eusebio revealed he had lost a 'great old friend' following the death of George Best.

Eusebio, perhaps Best's most famous international adversary during his heyday in the 1960s, played opposite the Manchester United ace in the 1968 European Cup final at Wembley.

Best's superb solo goal in extra-time of the final helped United win a first European Cup for an English club and denied Eusebio's club Benfica a third triumph in the competition.

By coincidence United's next Champions League match will be at Benfica's Estadio da Luz where there stands a statue of Eusebio, who today told PA Sport that football had lost one of its greatest players.

'The world football has lost a great,' said Eusebio, who is now 63. 'Personally, I've lost a great old friend. I feel sorry for his family.

'At a moment like this we can remember how important this man was for British and world football. He was fabulous.'

Eusebio still has vibrant memories of his side's Wembley defeat in what was arguably Best's career highlight.

'George Best was a fabulous player in that group of players at Wembley,' he added.

'At a moment like this there are no words enough to define the man.'

All senior soccer in England over the weekend will be preceded by a minute's silence.

'This is a very sad day for football. George Best was a wonderful player, one of the greatest,' said England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson.

'His ability was an inspiration to everyone who loves football.'

Paying tribute to Best, his compatriot and Football League chairman Brian Mawhinney said: 'George Best was one of the all-time football greats and a fine ambassador for Northern Ireland.'

Howard Wells, chief executive of the Irish Football Association, the governing body of Northern Irish soccer, said: 'George was a complete one-off with a natural talent rarely seen since.

'I saw one of his early internationals for Northern Ireland in 1964. He had this incredible balance, speed and grace. He was the best I had ever seen.'

Current Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho said: 'I never saw him but I got quite tired of my dad talking about him. Then I saw videos of him and I never tired of them.

'Players like Best they never die, what they leave behind them never dies.'