Mourners attending soccer legend George Best's funeral paid tribute to a "genius" at an emotional ceremony in his native Northern Ireland yesterday (03DEC05).

Tens of thousands of well-wishers lined the streets of Belfast, applauding respectfully as the funeral cortege passed, and many showered Best's hearse with flowers.

The former Manchester United ace was given a state funeral at Stormont Castle. Inside, family, ex-wives, former teammates and dignitaries were among the mourners, while a further 30,000 people watched giant screens outside in the rain.

Best's tearful son CALUM, 24, confessed he had been moved by the public show of support and expressed his gratitude for making the day so spectacular.

He said, "It was a great day, it really meant a lot.

"Northern Ireland has been absolutely amazing, but it was just something else, it was unbelievable. I was actually completely touched.

"It's been great. It really kept me personally and my family, it kept us all going. The thoughts, the letters and the prayers, when I'm down it really brings me up."

Best died on 25 November (05) of multiple organ failure, after a lengthy spell in hospital. He was buried next to his mother, ANN, in the hills overlooking east Belfast.