'His hours are numbered'
Manchester United legend is close to death
George Best's health has taken a severe turn for the worse and he is "coming to the end of the long road of his ill health," according to the doctor treating him.
Professor Roger Williams said Best, who is on a ventilator in the intensive care unit at the private Cromwell Hospital in west London, could die at any time. "He's still alive," he told reporters, "he's still having standard medical care and treatment, but I have to tell you that his hours are numbered now."
Prof Williams said that the internal bleeding Best suffered overnight had now affected his lungs. "There is really no return from that situation. It is really not possible to recover from that episode during the night.
"I would be very surprised if he survives another 24 hours."
Clearly upset, Prof Williams, who has been overseeing Best's treatment, added: "It's the final stage of this illness and I am afraid he could die at any time over the next 24 hours."
Best's son Calum, 24, his father Dickie, 87, and other family members were at his bedside, but he was no longer conscious or aware of what was happening.
Best, 59, has spent years battling alcoholism and underwent a liver transplant in 2002. But he ignored pleas to stay off the booze after the operation and was admitted to hospital on October 1 this year suffering from a flu-like infection.
His health deteriorated rapidly when he developed a kidney infection but he then rallied and his condition was thought to be improving until the early hours of Friday, when he developed a lung infection and was put back on a ventilator in intensive care.
As a footballer, Best helped United to the First Division in 1965 and 1967, and the European Cup in 1968. He was also crowned European and English footballer of the year for his sublime talent.
Describing his own lifestyle, he once said: "I spent a lot of my money on booze, birds and fast cars - the rest I just squandered."