August 27, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

Where Am I? Phil Tufnell’s cultural favourites

With his hilarious autobiography Where Am I? out now, cricket legend and all-round hero Phil Tufnell picks his cultural highlights…

BOOK

Well, it’s a bit cheeky but I’ll have to say one of my own! I won’t push it too far and say my new one, though! I really enjoyed doing Tuffers’ Cricket Tales a few years ago as it really made me laugh out loud when I was writing it.

BAND/MUSICIAN

I like loads of different stuff so it’s a bit hard to pick. I like loads of genres and music from different eras, but if I was going to pick just one band I’d go for someone like the Black Eyed Peas.

SONG

It’s got to be my wedding dance song, the classic ‘I Love You Baby’. It’s a belter that one, a proper dancefloor filler!

ARTIST

I get to see lots of art with the work I do, and I do like to do a bit of painting myself. But for a favourite artist I’d go for someone a bit more modern, like a Banksy. Graffiti style – bit of spray paint, bit of stencil – I’ve got a few bits and pieces of that on my walls at home.

FILM

It’s got to be the classic Pulp Fiction. Great soundtrack too.

FOOD

No question about it, nothing else will do for me. Roast dinner. I could have one every day of the week. Beef. Pork. Bit of crackling. All of that, and all the trimmings. Got to have roast potatoes too. Fish and chips not far behind, though.

DRINK

If I’m going to go down the pub for a roast dinner, I’ll have to have a nice real ale with it. I love trying new ones, and all the different flavours they come up with. You can’t go wrong with a Doom Bar though.

HOLIDAY DESTINATION OR PLACE

I’ve been all over the world with my cricket – Australia, New Zealand, India – but I’d probably say somewhere in the Caribbean. Maybe Barbados, as we had some great times over there. Or maybe Ibiza actually. The quiet side of the island, mind – I’m getting on a bit now!

SPORT/TEAM

My favourite team would be The Arsenal. My Dad was a massive Arsenal fan, so I was born and bred that way. But then there’s also Middlesex for the cricket, as I played there for 20-odd years. For Arsenal though, I think we’ll do quite well this season. We always finish strong, so we’ll get 4th at least!

Where Am I? is out now in hardback and ebook

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August 4, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

9 great sport books for autumn 2015

Not that we want to wish away summer (“summer”) or anything, but it’s time to start looking ahead to autumn. ‘Why?’, we hear you cry. Well, because that’s the time of the year where loads of great sport books come out.

There’s still a while to go for most of these, but who cares? Here are some of the big sport books for autumn 2015 that we’re already looking forward to…

sam

Big Sam: My Autobiography by Sam Allardyce

When it comes to legendary old-school Premiership managers, they don’t come much bigger (quite literally) than Big Sam Allardyce. From 20 years as a player and over 25 as a coach and a manager, this rollicking memoir should be as honest and hard-hitting as the man himself.
Hardback, 8th October, Headline, £20

 

Mourinho by Jose Mourinho

And on the opposite end of the management scale, the Chelsea boss tells his story via the medium of photography in this ‘visually sumptuous celebration’ of his incredible career. It’s the very first official book from Jose, so should be an essential purchase for Chelsea fans.
Hardback, 6th October, Headline, £20

 

geraint

The World of Cycling According to G by Geraint Thomas

Double Olympic gold medallist. Multiple world champion. Team Sky hero. When it comes to cycling, few people are as qualified to celebrate life on two wheels as Mr Thomas. And that’s exactly what he does in this funny, informative book. Top stuff.
Hardback, 29th October, Quercus, £20

 

webber

Aussie Grit: My Formula One Journey by Mark Webber

If you like watching very fast cars been driven round tracks across the globe, then you’ll love this autobiography from the legendary Australian driver. Hopefully he’ll dish some dirt on his former teammate/biggest rival, Seb Vettel, too.
Hardback, 10th September, Macmillan, £20

 

adam jones

Bomb by Adam Jones

It’s the Rugby World Cup this autumn, and one man the Welsh team will be missing is the cult hero and all-round legend Adam Jones. This is his story, going from being a normal bloke laying paving slabs in Swansea through to becoming one of only six Welshmen who’ve won three Grand Slams. Great hair too.
Hardback, 10th September, Headline £20

 

My Autobiography by Dan Carter

Another rugby legend, but this time from the other side of the planet. Dan is acknowledged as the greatest fly-half to have played international rugby and a veteran of over 100 Test matches for the All Blacks. This is him looking back on his career to date and reflecting on his unflinching loyalty to the famous black jersey. Go on, give it a TRY.
Hardback, 12th November, Headline, £20

 

Commitment by Didier Drogba

Remember when Didier Drogba scored that decisive penalty to win the Champions League for Chelsea? Awesome stuff. This autobiography from the footballing legend promises to be packed with reflections on incredible moments such as that. He’s also a genuinely good egg, having helped thousands through the Didier Drogba Foundation. Nice work, Dids.
Hardback, 5th November, Hodder & Stoughton, £20

 

Steve

My Story by Steven Gerrard

Another football legend, but this time it’s one without a collection of Premier League winner’s medals (sorry Liverpool fans, we’re just teasing). But seriously, Stevie G has dragged Liverpool and England out of many a tight spot over the years, and will go down as one of the greatest English midfielders of all time. As he starts his new adventure in the MLS, it’s a good time to reflect on his legendary career.
Hardback, 24th September, Penguin, £20

 

tuffers

Where Am I? by Phil Tufnell

Last, but certainly not least – a bit of Tuffers! The cricket/Strictly/celebrities in the jungle legend hasn’t had the most conventional career, to put it mildly. His autobiography is genuinely very funny and shows just why he’s a national treasure. God bless you, Phil.
Hardback, 27th August, Headline, £20

May 27, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

Ricky Hatton & Noel Gallagher – an extract from Vegas Tales

In this extract from his new book Vegas Tales, legendary boxer Ricky Hatton and his good mate Noel Gallagher recall being backstage at one of his many memorable bouts. We kick off with Ricky discussing his friendship with the Gallagher brothers, before Noel explains how they came to accompany him to the ring at his famous Vegas bout with Paulie Malignaggi…

We bump into each other at various functions, and whenever one or other of them are in Manchester, they’ll usually give me a call and we’ll meet up. Not both together, though, because as is well known they don’t get on these days – to be honest, they never did!

As we’re all Man City fans, we’ll meet up at the games. I was with Liam at Wembley when we won the FA Cup final against Stoke in 2011 and also at Manchester City when Sergio Aguero scored the last-minute winner that gave us the league title for the first time since 1968. I’ll never forget that day, because we ended up at the Town Hall celebrating with the team, and I’ve got a great photo of me with Liam and City captain Vincent Kompany.

Although I’m now mates with Liam and Noel, I’m still massive fans of theirs, too. So when I fought Paulie Malignaggi, I thought I’d ask them if they’d carry the belts into the ring. For me it would be a huge honour to have two of my idols with me on the ringwalk, and they jumped at the chance.

***

Noel Gallagher:

We were doing a big gig down in Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium, and Ricky came down with some of his mates. We were having a tear-up in the dressing room when he casually says: ‘I’m starting training in the next fortnight – where are you in the world on these dates . . .’

‘I dunno,’ I said, ‘I think we’re in America.’

‘Would you come and carry my belts out for my next fight?’

I was, like, ‘Fuck, yeah. If we can make it work, we’ll make it work.’

It turned out we were starting our American tour in Mexico three nights after that, so it was perfect timing. It was a great weekend.

***

On the night of the bout, I’m in the changing room, warming up, when Liam, Noel and the rest of the band come in.

We give Noel The Ring magazine belt and Liam the IBO belt.

Liam says to me: ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’

‘What do you mean what d’you do with it? When you get in the ring you just hold it up above your head.’

‘Right, no problem, Rick.’

A few minutes later, I’m doing my shadow boxing and I look across and there’s Liam standing in front of a mirror practising how he’s going to hold the belt up. I’m concentrating on the fight ahead, but I can’t help but laugh.

We’ve got Oasis tunes blaring out and Liam is getting more and more hyped up. He gets hold of my iPod and changes the song to Acquiesce, one of my favourites of theirs.

‘Hitman! This is the song we want on! Whooooo!’

Then he looks at my new coach, Floyd Mayweather, who I think is wondering who this lunatic is.

‘C’mon, Floyd! He’s going to smash his napper in!’ shouts Liam.

‘What’s a napper?’ replies Floyd.

***

Noel Gallagher:

I’ve never been backstage at a fight before. We got to the dressing room and there were loads of lads from Manchester, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, David Beckham, the guy that does the ‘Let’s get ready to rum-ble’ – he’s in there. Ricky had his iPod on and he was playing loads of Oasis.

There was a good vibe, but then you’re getting towards fight time, and I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is not my mate anymore – fucking gladiator, this lad.’ You saw him change. It went quiet and it was, like, right, ‘This is fucking show time now.’

Discover more about Ricky’s incredible career in Vegas Tales, his new book that’s out NOW in hardback and ebook

Hatton

April 13, 2015, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

New Ricky Hatton book out this May – Vegas Tales

Richard Hatton MBE, otherwise known as the legendary Ricky ‘The Hitman’ Hatton, is one of the most successful and celebrated British boxers of all time. In May this year, he will reveal all about his five legendary Las Vegas fights in a brand new book…

Ricky Hatton’s Vegas Tales promises to lift the lid on all the memorable moments that shaped these fights, from negotiations, through trash-talking transatlantic promotional tours, gruelling training camps, bizarre encounters with opponents, fans, A-list celebrities and boxing legends; all the way to fight-week mayhem and the epic post-fight benders that followed.

Hatton

From his memorable title wins over the likes of José Luis Castillo and Juan Urango through to his epic bouts with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and his penultimate fight with Manny Pacquiao, it’ll give you the full taste of what those Las Vegas adventures were really like.

If you’re into boxing, you won’t want to miss this one.

Ricky Hatton’s Vegas Tales will be published in hardback and ebook by Headline on May 19th 2015

November 21, 2014, Posted by Richard in Books, Books, Sport

Jimmy Bullard – an extract from BEND IT LIKE BULLARD

As Jimmy Bullard charms the nation in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, here’s an exclusive look at chapter one of his book, Bend it Like Bullard

CELEBRATE EVERY GOAL AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST; DO SO BY MOCKING YOUR MANAGER AND IT PROBABLY WILL BE

 ‘Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.’ Aristotle

Why always me? Mario Balotelli may have claimed that one for himself but I reckon I could justifiably wear that T-shirt too – as long as he washed it first.

You know your mate who you can always convince to do anything for a laugh because you haven’t quite got the bottle to do it yourself? That’s me. And that’s why when my Hull team-mates and I hatched a plan to perform the goal celebration to end all goal celebrations, it was inevitable that I ended up being the focal point of the whole thing, despite it not even being my idea.

On the eve of our match away at Man City in 2009, we were having dinner together in the team hotel when Paul McShane came up with a plan.

‘If we score tomorrow, let’s rinse the gaffer by doing a celebration taking the piss out of his on-pitch team talk last season,’ he said, as my team-mates and I nodded and laughed enthusiastically. ‘Not if we’re 3-0 down, but if it’s an equalising or winning goal, whoever scores it has to do it.’

McShane was part of the Hull team who had been humiliated by our gaffer Phil Brown in the corresponding fixture the previous season. Then – playing without me obviously or it would never have happened – Hull trailed 3-0 at the break and Brownie decided to keep the players on the pitch and delivered his half-time words of wisdom to them in front of the stunned visiting supporters.

If you ask me, that was a liberty and if I’d been a Hull player then I would have walked off the pitch and gone to the toilet. A lot of my future team-mates said he lost the dressing room at that point, and that’s why they were up for a small dose of revenge. But that was Brownie – he was unpredictable and did the most ridiculous things sometimes.

For better or worse, his very public team talk became one of the most talked-about incidents of the season. What was it that Oscar Wilde said about being talked about or not being talked about? I’ve got no idea. Do you think I’ve ever read Oscar bloody Wilde?

A year later, it was me who was being talked about when, with eight minutes left and Hull trailing 1-0, we were awarded a penalty in front of thousands of our fans who had travelled to Eastlands.

Shortly before, Brownie had asked me to play further up the pitch as we tried to claw something out of the game. I’d been playing in the deepest position of our three-man midfield, but the gaffer encouraged me to get forward and try to cause a few problems for the City defence, or at least give them something else to think about.

Who knows whether it was that or just fate, but a few minutes later Kolo Touré bundled over Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and the ref Lee Probert gave us the pen. The City boys went absolutely mental, arguing with him, but I tried to shut all that out.

I just picked up the ball with only one thing on my mind – scoring and going crazy in front of our fans. I’d completely forgotten about the ‘half-time bollocking’ celebration. I stepped up and smashed the ball to Shay Given’s right to draw us level and reeled off yelling and screaming to the Hull fans.

I’d completely lost the plot, as I do whenever I score, until one of the boys reminded me about the special celebration. Within a couple of seconds, all my team-mates were sat around me in a circle while I stood in the middle, gesturing, pointing and finger-wagging at the lot of them. It was a pretty convincing impression of the gaffer even if I do say so myself.

To add to the authenticity of this performance, it was in exactly the same spot at the same end as Brown’s barmy moment the season before – Laurence bloody Olivier couldn’t have done any better.

I love scoring goals and I love celebrating them. I’d done my bit for the lads and I still wanted to do my own little piece where I run to all four corners of the ground acknow- ledging the crowd. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time for that – I once did pretty much that while I was at Peterborough and got booked for my trouble – as, for some weird reason, the referee who had so kindly given us the penalty was now insisting that we should carry on with the last eight minutes of the game.

As City kicked off again my only thought was ‘I fucking hope this stays 1-1 after that celebration! Imagine if we lost 2-1 now . . .’

Fortunately we held on. I still had to face the gaffer back in the dressing room . . . but only after I’d milked the celebrations with the away fans even more at the final whistle, naturally.

With Brownie there was no way of second-guessing how he’d react to something like that. He could either be absolutely fine and good-humoured or he could come down on you like a ton of bricks.

At City the dressing room is split into two, with an area for the coaches and all their technical equipment and a space for us to get changed. By the time I got back there, most of the boys were crowded round a laptop in the coaches’ half watching replays of my celebration. Then the gaffer walked in.

Brownie looked into the area where all the players would normally be and seemed puzzled that nobody was there, but then he looked round and saw most of us stood by one of the computers. It wouldn’t have been hard for him to spot us seeing as most of the boys were pissing themselves laughing.

‘Oh shit,’ I thought as he strode over to see what all the fuss was about.

A few of us shuffled back into our half of the room as the gaffer watched the incident.

Then it went silent.

‘Oh shit,’ I thought again.

‘Oi, Bullard,’ he yelled. ‘What have you been doing?’

I looked up and was mightily relieved to see a broad smile across his chops. He thought it was absolutely hilarious.

(As it happens, he hadn’t seen my celebration at the time. He told me later that while I was busy taking the piss out of him, he’d grabbed hold of Richard Garcia to tell him to drop deeper so we’d have a five-man midfield and keep hold of our hard-earned point.)

‘That was blinding,’ he said. ‘But that’ll be the end of that though, eh?’

Message received loud and clear.

But not before I did a post-match interview about it on Soccer Saturday in which I explained how it had come about and told the reporter, ‘Whoever scored had to do the pointing. Trust it to be me!’

The press asked the gaffer a lot of questions about it after the game as they were hoping he’d be furious with me and the boys. They’d have been disappointed with Phil’s reaction as he maintained his good-humoured way of looking at it. If anything, he felt that it exorcised the ghost of what he’d done the season before and that we could now all move on.

I wasn’t that bothered about what he felt; I was just relieved that I’d gotten away with it.

And not just that, the following day I was on the back pages of pretty much every newspaper and all over the telly. Football fans could not get enough of it – I even picked up a Nuts magazine award for the celebration despite the fact it wasn’t my idea. In reality, Paul McShane and the other lads should also have won it but I just took that one for myself, thanks very much!

Would any of the other lads have done the celebration if they’d scored? It’s hard to be sure. But it was typical that I was the person in the spotlight at that precise moment.

The truth is I’m not wired right. At least, I’m wired just a little bit differently to other people and that meant I had an absolute ball as a professional footballer. I can honestly say that not a day went past where I didn’t appreciate what it was that I was doing. Make no mistake, I lived a dream and I loved every second of it.

Unlike most other Premier League players, I grafted as a part-time footballer, cable TV technician, carpet fitter and painter-decorator while trying to get my big break. And that’s why I was so determined to take it all in, soak it all up and, most importantly, entertain for every minute I was on the pitch.

I couldn’t help but perform, whether it meant with the ball or just by acting the fool – and if that enhanced people’s enjoyment of the game then so be it.

To some players football was just a job, to me it was the realisation of a boyhood dream, of hard work, tears, tantrums and plenty more besides.

That goal celebration is one of three things that football fans always ask me about. There’s that, being on Soccer AM and my, ahem, confrontation with Duncan Ferguson.

I came. I saw. I went bonkers.

bullardBend it Like Bullard is out now! Get your copy here

November 5, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Culture, Football, Sport

CROSSING THE LINE by Luis Suarez – an exclusive extract

Luis Suarez’s autobiography, Crossing the Line: My Story, is out now, and with Barcelona in the same Champions League group as Ajax, we thought it was the perfect time to share this extract from Luis as he discusses his time with the Dutch club…

Through everything that happened in my three-and-a-half years at the club the fans at Ajax never turned their back on me. As captain, the standard-bearer of the club, I had let them down with the biting incident. Yet, they had also seen that I played to win to the extent that I felt this tremendous responsibility to transmit that desire to win to the rest of my team-mates. There was no excuse for what I had done, but they appreciated that I always gave everything and many felt that I had instilled that winning mentality into the team. They liked me precisely because I was not what they were used to. I had supporters writing to me to congratulate me on how I had played as their captain and I will always carry that in my heart. They sang my name from my first game, and they even sang it after I had left the club. When Ajax were drawn to play Manchester United in a Europa League game in February 2012, I had just come back from my eight-game ban at Liverpool. Around 4,000 Ajax supporters sang ‘There’s only one Luis Suárez’ throughout the game at Old Trafford. When people told me about it I was overwhelmed; it’s something I will never forget.

Another reason why the club will always be special to me is because of the way they treated my family. We loved living in Amsterdam. It was a big change from Groningen; it is a much more international city, and one that had a lot of tourists and much more going on. The club advised us that we should be careful when we were out and about – the sort of warning locals might give any young wide-eyed tourists in a big city – but we had a wonderful time. Sofi and I picked out a loft apartment in a converted warehouse on Amsterdam’s IJ lake waterfront and, as busy capital cities go, it was a relaxing place to live. Above all, that was because of the attitude of the people. For a player it’s perfect because you are at a top European club but away from the pitch there is maximum respect for your personal space. No one bothers you for pictures or autographs if they see that you’re with your family. It couldn’t have been better.

The Amsterdam Arena is probably the best stadium I have played in. It has all the benefits of a modern stadium, but because of the supporters you can feel the history of the club when you play there. It makes me very proud to think that if those supporters were asked today about the top players that have played for the club they would include my name. In fact, just having been part of Dutch football is incredibly special to me. If my Uruguayan roots taught me to never stop fighting on the pitch, then my Dutch education taught me to never stop thinking.

Crossing the Line is out now in hardback and ebook. Get your copy here.

And you can read more from Luis about his time at Liverpool in this Guardian extract.

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October 7, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Football, Sport

The genius of Football Cliches

If you follow us on Twitter (curse you if you don’t, fools), you’ll have noticed that quite often on a Saturday afternoon we can be found retweeting @FootballCliches, Adam Hurrey’s glorious analysis of the often absurd language, mannerisms, opinions and iconography that define the beautiful game. Crackers such as these…


Well, this 24 karat Twitter gold has now been made into an equally superb book, the perfectly titled Football Cliches. Deconstructing the ridiculous things that pundits, players, managers and fans say, it’s an absolutely screamer. We loved it so much that we placed it right in the top corner of our rundown of the best sport books of 2014. Here are a few little snippets from this shiny, yellowy, beautiful beast…

The Dictionary

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The Disciplinary Tightrope

Footballers’ perpetual sense of injustice means that almost any type of foul is subject to appeal. Here are just a few:

The cynical foul: Cynical is used by co-commentators to describe any foul that looks even slightly deliberate. For the perpetrator, there is a hands-up acceptance of his fate, like entering a guilty plea in court. Despite claiming the mitigation of it being his first foul in the match (there’s that forefinger again), a yellow card is likely to be forthcoming. If it halts a promising opposition counterattack, the co-commentator will use his playing experience to confirm that the booked player will quite happily take that.

Welcome to the Premier League: The standard English top-flight welcome pack for new foreign signings consists of three items: a pair of oversized headphones, a designer washbag and an agricultural challenge from an old-fashioned centre-half.

Six of one, half a dozen of the other: A coming-together or wrestling match that lacks a clear instigator may be referred to as six of one (this particular cliché is established enough to be left incomplete) or, if the co-commentator is sufficiently leftfield, six and two threes. Further TV replays will confirm that the two players were, indeed, both at it.

5 of the 101 Ways to Score a Goal’

  • 4. Thundered: Suitable for describing shots travelling above the ground, which either go in or strike against the woodwork.
  • 14. Thumped: If a thumping takes place from close-range and/or thanks to a goalkeeping howler, it may well be gleefully undertaken. As with a hammering, this act of blunt trauma can also be applied to an entire scoreline, should the margin of victory be sufficiently comprehensive.
  • 42. Stroked: Like passing it in, this requires the sort of composure traditionally found on the Continent. Stroking the ball home is also an option from the penalty spot.
  • 66. Trickled: That heartbreaking way that a ball crosses the line after a defensive mix-up between a hapless goalkeeper and one of his Keystone Cops defenders.
  • 97. Went for power over placement: Related to, if anything, hitting the ball almost too well. Opting for power over placement often results in merely stinging the palms of the goalkeeper.

The Alan Hansen Defending Continuum

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 14.45.18

That’s just a brief look at some of the ruddy great stuff packed into Football Cliches by Adam Hurrey, published Thursday 9th October. Order your own copy here. You won’t regret it (unless you’re Andy Townsend, in which case you might feel a little… disheartened).

cliches

September 19, 2014, Posted by Tom in Books, Books, Sport

The 8 coolest sport books of 2014

2014 has been a ruddy good year for sport books. Here, in no particular order, are eight of the best that we’ve already read, or that we’re looking forward to reading once they hit book shops in the coming weeks…

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The list of 2014’s coolest sport books in full:

1. KP: The Autobiography by Kevin Pietersen, published 9th October by Little, Brown – The sometimes controversial England cricketing legend spills the beans on his incredible career

2. Football Clichés by Adam Hurrey, published 9th October by Headline – Student of the game Adam Hurrey translates the ridiculous language of the world of football (with real aplomb)

3. Guy Martin: My Autobiography by (you guessed it) Guy Martin, out now from Virgin Books – Put this man on a motorbike and amazing things happen, and we don’t just mean he’s good at wheelies. Here’s the story behind his success

4. I Think Therefore I Play by Andrea Pirlo (with ), out now from BackPage Press – The bearded Italian footballing icon discusses his career in a way that is arrogant, insightful and hilarious

5. My Story: Crossing the Line by Luis Suarez, published 23rd October by Headline – The ex-Liverpool man’s autobiography covers bites, bans and bloody good goals with surprising depth and real honesty

6. Swim, Bike, Run: Our Triathlon Story by Alastair and Jonathan Brownlee, out now from Penguin – Want to swim, cycle and run for an extended period of time? Get some inspiration from the Olympic heroes

7. Bobby Moore: The Man in Full by Matt Dickinson, out now from Yellow Jersey – A comprehensive biography of England’s most successful football skipper from the well-respected sports correspondent for The Times

8. Bend it Like Bullard by Jimmy Bullard, out now from Headline – The cult hero tells hilarious stories from his career. Not your standard football autobiography, and all the better for it

 All images © the respective publishers

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