Let’s be absolutely honest, football autobiographies don’t make for much of an enthralling read. All too often they are filled with the same old tripe, telling the tale of a boy that used to walk the streets, with a ball never more than two yards away from his feet.
They slowly progress to scrubbing the boots of a hero, until the protagonist finally gets his big break. The book then becomes top heavy with arrogant boastings of memorable goals, and the triumphs or tribulations of lifting or missing out on a famous trophy. At the risk of sounding blunt it’s a case of ‘same sh*t, different player’ syndrome.
There are however, on rare occasions, a small portion of football books that stand out. George Best’s autobiography reads more like the life of a rock star than a footballer, and Paolo Di Canio speaks about his time standing as a hooligan with the Lazio Ultra’s. Paul McGrath’s tackles the life of an alcoholic, so desperate he hospitalised himself by drinking a bottle of kitchen bleach, and Paul Merson recalls snorting cocaine and betting on rain drops with youth players. Any book that details Wimbledon’s notorious initiation rituals or practical joke’s is also worth a skim though.
Raymond Domenech’s upcoming scrawl also promises to position itself in that small portion of football books that stand out. The book, titled ‘All Alone,’ is based on the diary that he kept during his, disastrous and controversial, time as manager of the French national team, between 2004-2010.
He took on the job with the objective of reaching “at least” the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup. After talking members of France’s “golden generation” out of retirement he did better than that, losing in the final that hosted the notorious Zidane head butt. World Cup 2010 of course sparked more controversy, when Nicolas Anelka was sent home and a player mutiny was staged. France finished bottom of their group and Domenech was gone. It is said that Domenech’s book will "reveal his struggles with Zinedine Zidane, Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry or younger players from a lost generation."
Publishers claim "a sincere testimony, without jargon or desire to minimise his own mistakes."
People like to read about struggles, controversy and conflict, just like Matias Almeyda’s recent autobiography that was popular for outing mafia, match fixing and drug scandals in Italian Football. Why read about squeaky clean footballers, scrubbing boots and lifting trophies, when you can read about the dirty stuff?
image: © Andrea Sartorati