Ailing football star Best showing improvement

LONDON: Troubled football legend George Best was showing slight signs of recovery in a London hospital yesterday after days clinging to life on a ventilator in intensive care.  

The former Manchester United star was starting to wake up and his doctors are pleased with his progress, the 59-year-old's agent said.  

Phil Hughes told reporters outside the private Cromwell Hospital in west London that there had been a “very definite improvement in his condition” and Best would be fully woken up throughout yesterday.  

The ex-Northern Ireland forward's condition deteriorated sharply last week after a month of treatment for an infection which spread to several organs, including the liver and kidneys.  

“He's a little better. They are very pleased this morning. They are starting to wake him up,” Hughes said, explaining that doctors were slowly reducing his sedation. “I started to talk to him and he gripped my hand.”  

Best is unable to speak but was opening his eyes when people talked to him.  

Considered among the sport's greatest players alongside the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona, Best began drinking heavily during his playing days.  

He became an alcoholic, bringing on a succession of health problems which led to his 2002 liver transplant, during which he nearly died.  

He was back on the booze within a year having been told another drink could kill him.  

The soccer star's infection is thought to be linked to immuno-suppressant drugs used to help prevent the rejection of his new liver.  

Hughes said: “They've already slowed the ventilator down so he is partially breathing by himself.  

“There's no doubt that he is still seriously ill but little signs like that are enough to say he's on the mend.” – AFP 

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