Rocker Eric Clapton was devastated by the death of soccer star George Best last year (25NOV05), as he had desperately attempted to save him from the alcoholism that claimed his life. The TEARS IN HEAVEN rocker, who is himself a reformed alcoholic, visited his friend at a rehabilitation clinic and wrote to him during his final days in London's Cromwell hospital, but admits the former Northern Ireland player repeatedly faced down his arguments for sobriety. He recalls, "He was in a health farm down in the country, and I was sent over to talk to him. I made a real sloppy attempt at persuading him to stop drinking. On my own which was ridiculously wrong. He ran rings around me. "He made me feel like I was the one needing help! I told my story, and he was like, 'You poor bugger.' I thought, this is going wrong. He was very clever, and he got some mileage out of staying where he was." However, Clapton accepts Best lived his life to the full and achieved his dream of playing a major role in sporting history: "Look at George's funeral. It's like he knew that if he died this way he would go down in history as being one of the great Irish heroes of all time. "That was more important to him than just being alive and having a good life."