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Becks to the Future
by Harry Harris


George Best, voted the best British player of all time, believes David Beckham can one day run him close for the honour.

"David and Ryan Giggs have got to the stage where they can become great," says Best. "Now they have to step over the line between good and great."

Best came second only to Pele in a poll of nearly 500,000 fans from 110 countries. Yesterday the top twenty-five were announced in London and became the first entrants to the International Football Hall of Fame.

Northern Ireland genius Best never played in the World Cup finals. But Beckham will perform in France next summer.

Best says: "If I were Glenn Hoddle, in the few months left before the World Cup I would tell Beckham: 'You are the boss. Go out and do it'.

"Give him the captaincy, give him the centre of midfield, give him the authority, give him whatever it takes.

"You win the big prizes only if you have a main man who can be your winner.

"When you look back over past World Cups, the main man has always been the the hub of the team. Look at Pele, Beckenbauer, Cruyff and Eusebio.If this kid decides he wants to do it, he has the ability. What he still lacks is the final knife, the final killing off of opponents. But he is very, very close to it.

"I think so highly of Beckham that he could become the Eric Cantona of Manchester United and he could reach similar heights for England."

Of course, Pele was hailed as the best footballer of all time.

And Best said: "I don't mind being beaten into second place by the man himself."

Pele, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970, sent a message.

"To be chosen in a public vote by more than 500,000 people from around the globe as the number one player of all time is wonderful," he said.

"My thanks to all those who have supported me over the years and all those who have voted for me.""

Best came second ahead of Sir Bobby Charlton, Johan Cruyff and Bobby Moore.

To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, to be built in Manchester next year, players had to be internationals and been retired for at least three years.

The five players who received the most votes were automatically admitted. The remaining 20 places were decided in the last week by footballers and sports journalists.

There will be an awards ceremony for all those chosen in the New Year.

Also announced yesterday were the five players who will hold the title of "Future Hall of Famer"for a year.

These are current footballers and were chosen by the public. They are Diego Maradona, Alan Shearer, Ronaldo, George Weah and Beckham.

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