I'm old enough to have seen George Best play in the flesh, once for Manchester United against Shamrock Rovers in 1973, and three years later for Cork Celtic against Shelbourne. The contrast was stark.

While he was far from his inspirational peak in the first game, he at least got involved and looked like a professional footballer. By the time I next saw him, he resembled a hungover hobo who'd stumbled into the Cork Celtic dressing room, nicked a strip and some boots, and gone for a ramble around the Harold's Cross pitch.

Despite the myth that's surrounded Best ever since he became football's first pop star in 1965, his was a mercurial talent from day one, long before he became more interested in gargle than the Beautiful Game. He'd as likely play poorly as spectacularly well, but of course his legend is built on glorious moments such as his goal the night Manchester United first lifted the European Cup in 1968, the most pivotal moment of his life.

Here, his story is told by Daniel Gordon, whose CV includes Hillsborough, a pretty harrowing documentary about the Hillsborough tragedy. Impressively, he's told the George Best story with an even, but ultimately damning hand. The final 15 minutes are jaw-dropping as it exposes the grim reality of a brittle and exceptionally-talented man who was beaten by life and drowned in booze.

Before all that, though, there are several truly splendid moments to savour and candid interviews with some of the main players in George Best's life, especially his first wife Angie and old pals such as Pat Crerand and Mike Summerbee.

But the most eloquent opinions on Best are expressed by Hugh McIlvaney, an articulate and insightful football journalist who retired last year at the age of 82. He knew Best for many decades, and pulls no punches here. (By the way: in 1970 he wrote and narrated a documentary with the self-explanatory title of The World of Georgie Best. It's on YouTube. Look it up.)

As a child, I adored George Best. As an adult, I dreaded each twist and turn in his downward spiral. When he died on November 25 2005, I cried.

Go see Best and you could end up crying for him too. What a waste.