Nicklas Bendtner Autobiography Review by Dan Smith
I should give some context. I never thought that Nicklas Bendtner was as bad as some made out. He was never going to be our first-choice striker but if he hadn’t said certain things (like being one of the best in the world) then he would have been accepted simply as a back-up striker who could be our plan B.
If he hadn’t been as outspoken, he never would have ended up with a chant from his own fans, ‘He only scores because your s…:
That song was made in fun.
As was the nickname Lord Bendtner.
After all before reading this autobiography that was my perception of the player …….fun! The happy go lucky guy who had a high opinion of himself and liked a party.
By the time I put this book down I felt kind of guilty, that the sport had let him down and somehow, I was part of that process.
I thought I was going to read tales of a young man, earning lots of money, going to fancy nightclubs, with a model on each arm. After all that’s the perception of a modern footballer.
While Bendtner plays to that stereotype, take the emotion of Football out of things, and you are actually left with a young man with a serious battle with addiction.
So while you might expect lots of fun stories of boozy nights out, they come across as sadder and more tragic.
While it’s not the responsibility of supporters to be looking out for a player’s welfare, attitudes would have been different had the media reported things in a certain manner. Of course that would have taken, like anyone, trying to find a solution to recognise a problem.
At 32, the Dane treats this project like it’s his therapeutic tool, it is taking him being under house arrest to address his issues. With an electronic tag round his ankle, and probation, meaning no drinking and a curfew, putting his feelings on a pen and paper became his outlet.
Whatever your opinion of him as a footballer, any human trying to confront reliance on alcohol and gambling is a good thing.
As many of you can testify, if only what we know in our thirties we could apply to our 20’s. Addiction after all is an illness.
We sympathise with a Paul Merson and Tony Adams when they talk about their demons.
So why did I (who see myself as a knowledgeable Gooner) assume I was going to read a book about clubbing and sex and a man boasting how good his career was.
The fact it never crossed my mind that Bendtner for so long as been crying for help, is a reflection on how without the right people around you, you can drown.
Arsenal fans might have benefited from hearing a story earlier how he cried when he was about to be released and begged for a second chance. He cares more then his public image portrays.
He writes the book lonely; a binge of wine was his response to not being selected for the 2014 World Cup.
The ‘friends’ he would fly over to his apartment, which was never empty, suddenly don’t find him popular when he’s rock bottom. He overhears his brother on the phone to their mum not wanting to stay with his sibling due to him not being a laugh any more.
There’s a heart-breaking story about his father running off with all his money, conning him out of his own business.
Football couldn’t protect him from its pitfalls.
While there’s a curious insight into their youth policy (the club use old couples who house share and players don’t get their money til 18), Arsene Wenger wasn’t the arm round the shoulder like he was to many others. You sense Bendtner regrets not opening up to his manager?
The only confrontation the two had was the player sending a nasty text when told at the last second his transfer was off. If Mr Wenger had known the players response was to waste away thousands at a casino, battle for custody of his daughter and be on 4-day benders, history shows he would have found him more supportive.
It says everything about football’s outlook that Steve Bruce worked with the player at Birmingham so knew his problems off the field (especially given that he dated his daughter), yet still took him on loan at Sunderland.
Knowing his issues what was the support Sunderland offered him? Stay away from Lee Cattermole!
I think the author wants us to find it amusing that of course Bendtner ends up friends with the trouble maker. I don’t, it’s sad how football could only care about your talent, spit you out when you’re not an asset, yet not have a better duty of care.
I can see why this is a bestseller in Denmark. Here is one of their nations great hopes who while always doing well for the International team, didn’t fulfil the promise they were obsessed with since he was a teenager.
The country has also been gripped with his insight into the politics behind the scenes within the Dutch FA.
It should be stressed that like any auto biog, it’s one person’s side of things and no right to reply for those he blames (employers, parents, mother of his child). In that sense it feels like we are on a therapist’s chair and get a bit of every stage of his behaviour.
There’s blame. Any run in with the law he paints himself as the victim being misunderstood.
Anger. He feels lied to regarding the World Cup in Russia.
Denial. He argues that if he hadn’t got injured, Juventus were about to turn his loan into a permanent switch.
Finally though, there is a man who wants to be better, who now sees his daughter more often, who last time visiting London Instead of partying actually for the first time instead toured the Capital City.
He’s trying to cut out drink and gambling from his life and that should be celebrated no matter your opinion of his ability.
The saddest part to read was him saying what he loved about one relationship was that she had a family set up that he never had.
Which broke my heart.
And here I was thinking it would be a story of a party animal coming out of a taxi with trousers round his ankles.
When I opened this gift for Christmas, I thought I would be reading about one thing and read about something else. That’s the sign of a good autobiography.
4 out of 5