From building to broadcasting to banking - the breadth of the 3i chairman's achievements are remarkable. As Andrew Davidson discovers, he knows about football too - or at least, about Newcastle United.
Sir George Russell, bent over the coffee table in his 10th-floor office at 3i in Waterloo, is concentrating very hard. 'Let's see. Shmeichel, no, no, that's silly, what's his name? Srnicek, that's it. Venison, the new Swiss full back I can never pronounce - Hottiger? Then Albert, Sellars, Beardsley ...' At my request, the chairman of 3i is running through the current Newcastle United team. Never one to resist a challenge, Russell is keen to prove he has not lost his Geordie roots. You have to admire his tenacity. 'No, no, don't help me,' he says, halfway through, determined to finish. Most chairmen of his status and experience would have thought it a very cheeky question indeed.