Following the death of football legend George Best in November 2005 publishers rushed out biographies, photo books and even a collection of George Best quotes but this is the first official family book about the man they called The Belfast Boy, who left home at 15 and became a legend in his own lifetime - and it is truly an excellent publication.

George's sister Barbara tells her brother's story from his birth in a pre 'Troubles' Belfast, his discovery by Manchester United and subsequent magical football career, and then takes readers through his downfall and explores the demons inside that ultimately led to his death.

In previously untold stories, she explains how George was often attacked by Catholic schoolboys on his way home to the Cregagh Estate from the Grosvenor High School, being identified as Protestant by his school blazer.

He would often hide his schoolbag behind his aunt Margaret's bin and kick a football around all day instead of going to school. Luckily, he was found out and this lead to him moving to Lisnasharragh Secondary School.

Following his move to Manchester United, Barbara describes the pride the family felt, particularly by their father Dickie, who would go over to England to see his son in action, often viewing matches from the director's box.

The death of their mother, Annie, who had an alcohol problem, is sentimentally covered by Barbara, who details how Dickie found her in her bed.

The book reproduces many priceless family photographs along with letters George sent home to his family from England.

The first thing that jumps out at you is the excellent handwriting skills he possessed. The letters are fascinating. Along with the latest news, he never forgot his football.

"Dear Mum and Dad, Well, we done it! We won 3-0. It was fabulous!"

"Dear Mum and Dad, Well, What about yesterday. I suppose you know by know. I've enclosed some cuttings from 'The Pink'."

During World Cup 1966: "I'm sorry but that is all for now, the match has just come on."

In honour of the legendary Brazilian player of the time, he would often sign off with "Your loving son, Garrincha George".

Barbara then gives the family insight into the downward spiral of George's career, which saw him spend short spells with several clubs in England, Scotland the USA and his short period with Cork Celtic in the League of Ireland.

His first marriage, to Angie, and the birth of his son Calum are lovingly recalled, as is his second marriage to Alex, many years his junior.

With so much having been written about his marriage to Alex, the family's opinion of her and treatment of her after Georges' death, Barbara sets the record straight.

The days leading up to George's death are comprehensively covered in the book, as are the planning put into his funeral.

The family wanted a 'normal' funeral - but this was George Best and this was a 'new' Northern Ireland, where he was a hero to everyone, regardless of political persuasion. This funeral was going to be an event.

The use of Stormont for the funeral service was offered and soon accepted by the family. Singers such as Brian Kennedy and Peter Corry were contacted and, with no hesitation, agreed to perform at the funeral while songs such as 'Bring him Home' and 'You Raise Me Up' were chosen as was the Don McLean song 'Vincent', which was one of George's favourites.

With the whole event to broadcast on television, paramilitary leaders had even agreed to cover up a large wall mural in the Tullycarnet estate so as not to cause offence.

Anyone who witnessed the funeral in person or on television and was moved by the emotion will feel the same when reading Barbara's recollections of the arrival of the coffin at RAF Aldergrove, the trip home to Burren Way in Cregagh and the procession on the morning of the funeral from Cregagh, across Belfast and out to Stormont.

Barbara says: "It is so comforting to know that our George did something very special in Northern Ireland. He brought the people together. All religious and political differences were set aside to pay tribute to him. Doors were opened. Seemingly impossible tasks were achieved. Everyone pulled together."

Many books have been written over the years about this man but this is arguably the 'best'.

Mark Cummins