I Am The Secret Footballer: Lifting The Lid On The Beautiful Game by The Secret Footballer

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I Am The Secret Footballer: Lifting The Lid On The Beautiful Game by The Secret Footballer

Category: Sport
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Peter Magee
Reviewed by Peter Magee
Summary: A compelling and very readable look at what really goes on in football. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Guardian Books
ISBN: 978-0852653081

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In the 2012 Olympic Games the UK delighted in the skills shown by our athletes. We were - naturally - pleased by the medals, but what impressed was the training and dedication of people who were frequently fitting what they did around the day job or study. For the most part they weren't reaping much in the way of financial rewards from what they did - but they shone. The exceptions were the footballers. I forget (and that might well be Freudian) exactly who beat us, but I doubt that there are many people pleased by the show they made. It's now the beginning of the Premier League season and I Am the Secret Footballer has arrived at the perfect moment.

It's a frank, no-holds-barred account of a footballer who has played at the highest level, but who started out with few advantages and played the game for the love of it. He makes no apology for the fact that Premiership footballers are the highest paid sportsmen in Britain but you'd be wrong if you thought that the money guaranteed happiness. He readily admits that football has also brought him to the lowest point in his life. Most fascinating for me was the detail about how Sky has brought so much money into the game that an agent reveals the game could probably survive without the need for spectators.

I've been a regular (if not obsessive) reader of the Secret Footballer's Guardian column over the last eighteen months or so and I did wonder if this would be a book of stuff I already knew. In the early pages I thought my fears were coming true - until I realised that I was rereading the excerpts which appeared in the paper a week ago. Once past that point it was fresh and interesting and - if anything - improved as the book went on. It's very readable - I finished it in a couple of sittings when I really should have been doing other things.

If you're buying the book in the hope of working out the name of the footballer (three people in Britain know his identity - it's the best kept secret in UK sport) then even the Sudoku experts, eliminating this and extrapolating that, are going to struggle. It's obviously someone who has played at the highest level, but whilst what he says rings true I suspect that there's some degree of disinformation about who and what which muddies the waters. I'd love to know who it is - but equally I'm just pleased to have read what he has to say.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag. If you're stil prepared to be amused by what goes on in football you might enjoy I Kick Therefore I am: The Little Book of Premier League Wisdom by Alan Tyers and Beach or for a story from the lower reaches of the professional game, try Up Pohnpei: A quest to reclaim the soul of football by leading the world's ultimate underdogs to glory by Paul Watson.

Buy I Am The Secret Footballer: Lifting The Lid On The Beautiful Game by The Secret Footballer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Am The Secret Footballer: Lifting The Lid On The Beautiful Game by The Secret Footballer at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy I Am The Secret Footballer: Lifting The Lid On The Beautiful Game by The Secret Footballer at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Am The Secret Footballer: Lifting The Lid On The Beautiful Game by The Secret Footballer at Amazon.com.


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