Can you imagine being friends with a football legend?
In the 1970s, Northern Ireland teammates Tommy Cassidy and George Best shared a room for the duration of four years. And it’s no surprise that the football duo shared some memorable moments along the way.
Back in 2015, Cassidy recalled his friendship with the one and only George Best. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Cassidy revisited some of their most heart-warming and hilarious memories.
Fond Memories of George Best
Thinking fondly of their friendship, Cassidy shared how his new friend quickly won over his parents.
‘He was brilliant with them. He was a working-class lad and just had this charm.
After six months I realised how warm a person he was. He was the opposite of a big-headed superstar.’ Cassidy shared.
To say the least, Cassidy’s dad was starstruck – George Best was his football hero.
Cassidy also reminisced on a memorable moment of compassion from George.
‘After we played Holland in 1976, Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens were chasing Bestie, fighting over his shirt, but George had promised it to a little boy with meningitis in Belfast and told these two great players he wasn’t going to let the boy down.’
Cassidy recalled another moment of generosity, sharing:
‘We were at the cinema in Belfast on another occasion and George went to the front of the queue and paid everyone in. He wasn’t showing off, he just earned more money and wanted to help people out.’
The Popularity of George Best
The piece also sees Cassidy look back at George’s popularity with the ladies! The football icon was the epitome of style, and it’s no surprise that he soon became a heartthrob.
‘We were playing Portugal and by the time we landed he had every air hostess’s number.’ Cassidy laughed.
The fan hysteria surrounding Best is brought to light once again, when Cassidy describes a time in Moscow. The two teammates had been there to play USSR in 1971 and had decided to go out for a walk.
‘We didn’t have a clue but the KGB followed us. They were frightened someone might do something silly to George – now that would have started a war!
Everyone recognised him but he would stop to say hello. When we got back to the hotel a KGB officer shook George’s hand and thanked him for being so respectful.’
A Lasting Legacy
Bringing the article to a close, Tommy recalls the day of George’s funeral, which he sadly couldn’t attend. Cassidy was the manager of Workington at the time, and called his dad explaining he had a game but wanted to come to the funeral.
His dad reassured him, saying “Tommy, what would George do? Go to the match son”.
‘My wife, Rosemary and I were driving to the game, listening to the funeral on the radio. The Irish singer, Brian Kennedy, sang Raise Me Up. I pulled over and burst out crying. He meant so much to me.’
George Best certainly left a lasting legacy, touching the lives of many throughout the years. And it’s safe to say that Cassidy’s friendship with George is one that he treasures.
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