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Law, Rooney among stars at Best memorial service

MANCHESTER, England (AP) _ Manchester United stars past and present joined family members at a memorial service Thursday for George Best, the club great who died in November at age 59 after years of alcohol abuse.

Former teammate Denis Law, current manager Alex Ferguson and 20-year-old star Wayne Rooney were among the 1,000 people who went to Manchester Cathedral to pay tribute to the skinny, shaggy-haired winger from Northern Ireland who was rated one of the game's all-time best players.

``I'm very proud to see so many people here,'' Law said.

Ferguson said Best's determination and talent were lessons for today's youth.

``George Best had a lot of courage, both physical and mental,'' the United manager said. ``George was not afraid to show that courage and his talent. Any young person who watched George must remember that. If you have talent, show it.''

Best's former wife, Alex, attended the service along with his father, Dickie Best, and Calum Best, his son from a four-year marriage to his first wife, Angie.

``What George Best brought to fans on the terraces and around the world is simply immeasurable,'' said Canon Paul Denby, who conducted the service. ``He stood out simply because he was different, because he was George Best who set a new standard in football.''

Best was one of the stars of Manchester United's European Cup triumph in 1968, when the Red Devils beat Benfica 4-1 in the final at Wembley. During his prime, he mesmerized defenders with his dribbling skills and scored memorable goals both in English soccer and in European competition.

With a string of girlfriends and a playboy lifestyle, Best frequently made headlines off the field, however, and initially quit the game at age 27 to concentrate on business ventures.

When Best's commercial activities began to fail, he went back to playing but without the same success. He frequently failed to show up for training after drinking binges. After his retirement from the game, he became an alcoholic and ran into serious health problems.

Best had a liver transplant in 2002, but returned to drinking. Alex divorced him last year.
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