Soccer legend George Best has just hours to live, according to the doctor treating him at a London hospital.

The former Manchester United star suffered severe internal bleeding overnight - a week after he contracted a lung infection and nine weeks after he was first admitted to hospital with flu-like symptoms.

The 59-year-old's family and friends are by his bedside at the Cromwell Hospital.

Professor Roger Williams, who has been treating Best since before he underwent a liver transplant in 2002, says, "Mr Best is coming to the end of the long road of his ill health.

"The situation is that medically the intensive care team and everybody concerned have managed to cope with pretty well all of the complications except the one that has happened again during the night - this bleeding.

"Although (the blood) has been replaced, it has now affected the lungs and other parts, and there is really no return from that situation.

"It is just not possible to recover from that.

"He is still having standard medical care and treatment but I have to tell you that his hours are numbered now and it's all very upsetting."