Senior academic who once played alongside George Best dies, aged 66

An educational pioneer and a sports lover who once played on the same side as the legendary George Best has died at the age of 66..

Paul Brett once played in the same team as the legendary George Best.
Paul Brett once played in the same team as the legendary George Best.

Dr Paul Brett, originally from Shrewsbury, began his career as a teacher in English as a foreign language, and worked for the British Council, first in Venezuela and then in Dubai. On his return he did a Masters degree at Birmingham University and then a Phd at Wolverhampton University where he was also a member of staff.

In 2010 he won a national award in recognition of his outstanding impact on student learning – a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy.

Dr Paul Brett

Dr Brett was the head of Wolverhampton University’s Blended Learning Unit at the Institute for Learning Enhancement and was responsible for the successful integration of e-learning into the curriculum.

“He was a pioneer of what today we would call virtual or online teaching – he was ahead of his time,” said his widow Cathy.

“We first met when we were at university in Birmingham when we were in our late teens or early 20s, and then re-met just short of 10 years ago and married. We had a gloriously happy nine years together.”

Paul was a lifelong supporter of Shrewsbury Town – his late father Alan Brett was a top figure in Shropshire football, as a former president of the county FA, secretary, and English FA representative.

Cathy added: “From a very young age his father would take Paul to the football and he remained an avid fan throughout his life. He also played football, once during an amateur-professional demonstration match on the same side as George Best, in Dubai."

This was towards the end of the legendary star's career, and Cathy added: "I think at that time Paul probably had the edge on George.”

Tennis and cricket were other big sporting loves and in retirement he took up golf and was soon hooked, being on the golf course every day.

“He loved travelling, and went overland to India when he was a young man, which was quite a feat at the time,” said Cathy.

In the last part of his life he lived in Steyning, West Sussex. A private funeral has been held in Worthing.

Paul is survived by Cathy, his daughter Alice, and stepchildren Charlotte and Ben. His brother, Ian Brett and his wife Jane, still live in Shrewsbury.

Cathy added: "Worthing Golf Club have honoured his memory by establishing the Paul Brett Trophy, to be played annually on New Members Day, in tribute to the enormous impact he had on inclusivity in his three short years membership."

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