If you, like me, have always been intrigued by what goes on behind the scenes in Premier League clubs and football clubs in general, then the secret footballer is absolutely the ideal book to buy. If you are unfamiliar with the secret footballer, well there isn’t much to know, it’s an anonymous professional footballer talking about his experiences in the beautiful game, and it is one of the few books that I’ve been truly devastated by the fact I’ve finished reading it.
The player shares stories and gives his opinion on a wide range of topics. His childhood as a passionate fan of the game, his adaptation into being a professional player, and perhaps most interestingly, his battles with depression. A lot of the tales he tells are predictable, and are similar to what those you’d imagine professional footballers at young ages do when they are essentially showering in money.
However, others are much more thought provoking and surprising. The player describes his financial issues that came about due to his own carelessness, as well as some opinions which many inside the game are almost too scared to share.
The book isn’t just stories either. He gives his own views on a range of taboo subjects such as homophobia, racism, gambling and mental health problems within the game. Reading his views are refreshing, and part of me feels that the player, whoever he is, would make a better FA or FIFA representative than a rich, elderly businessman. Although some of the player’s gripes could be seen as childish and out of touch with ordinary people who can only dream of being a professional footballer, the player justifies every one of his claims.
For example, describing how painful being a professional footballer is at times may seem an ungrateful and unappreciative at first, but upon further reading, you begin to worry for the player’s livelihood, and make you question what these players do when the full time whistle blows.
Don’t worry though, the player’s story does paint the life of a footballer as ludicrous, and as wild as many people expect and dream of it being. Some of the stories told are genuinely shocking, and the player tells tales of the obscene amounts of money spent on certain nights out, the extreme gambling addiction of two of his old teammates, and what a day in the life of the footballer during his depression consisted of. Parts of the book makes the footballer’s lifestyle seem idealistic, in one of the later chapters, he lists some of his purchases he made during his most financially blissful years.
It makes you think, if a Premier League footballer lives like this, what must the billionaire businessman and entertainers live like? However, this feeling of almost envy swiftly turns to pity and horror as the realities of depression bought about due to personal problems, injuries and other things are detailed. I’m sure many others, whether they are rich or poor can relate to his fears and feelings of uselessness.
‘’The secret footballer’’ is not all tales of wild parties, it’s a story of life, beliefs, talent and morals. What toll does professional football have on him? Living his life so recklessly by his own admission and then his spiral into financial troubles and the remarkable story in how he got out of potentially being homeless.
The training ground stories of players and managers being late and duly punished, as well as the often viscous bullying of younger players by experienced heads are all fascinating and at times shocking insights. A brilliant book that has given me a thorough and genuine insight into the life of a player in today’s game.
A selection of the book’s best quotes (without wanting to spoil anything):
“On Dwight Yorke’s first day as a Manchester United player, Roy Keane fired the ball deliberately hard so Yorke would be unable to handle it ‘’welcome to Manchester United’’ Keane said.
“I sat in that chair because I knew that once I did, I wouldn’t have to get up and do something I couldn’t face’’ (on his depression)
‘’ (John) Terry may as well have a whistle such is his influence on matches. The man gets away with murder on the football pitch”.
Written by Joshua Sodergren
Follow Joshua on Twitter @chelsealad1365
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