Belfast, Northern Ireland is eagerly awaiting the first showing of a new musical about the life and times of footballing legend George Best.

The musical opens Friday and will pay tribute to one of Northern Ireland’s immortal sporting heroes.

Thousands of fans have already booked their tickets to catch the show during its first  2-1/2 week run at Belfast's Grand Opera House.

"I am a big fan of George Best and he inspired many thousands of people like me all over Ireland," said Aidan O'Neill, one of the nine-strong, all-Northern Irish cast to take part in the revolutionary production.

Best’s friend, snooker legend Alex Higgings, passed away last weekend, which has added an extra sense of poignancy to the production.

Best’s life was marred by alcoholism, which ultimately led to his death in 2005.

Before his death he asked British tabloid The News of the World to publish a picture of him dying on his hospital bed; his final message was reputed to be “don’t die like me”.

Best’s best known quote during his lifetime was: "I spent a lot of my money on booze (alcohol), birds (women) and fast cars. The rest I just squandered."