Dan’s book review – “Both Sides” Nicholas Bendtner’s Autobiography

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

Dan

16 Comments

  1. gotanidea says:

    Football is dynamic, but Bendtner must’ve thought he could always rely on his stature and skills without putting in extra effort. Another talented attacker who has failed to live up to his initial potential

  2. Maurice says:

    I think you’ll find he has a son not a daughter…..

    1. John says:

      I thought of him as an average player who could have an odd good game but had a lazy attitude that probably was down to his off field activities.We often forget just how young some of the players are and how too much money and fame can have a negative and destructive effect.A player would have to have a strong character like Tesco to keep himself grounded with so much temptation about.

    2. Dan Smith says:

      Your correct lol
      Mr Wenger has the daughter , reading too many books lol

  3. sm says:

    Ive got Tony Adams and Ian Wrights autobiography. They both battled adversity to become Arsenal greats. Nicholas, however, was self indulgent. He spoke the wrong words at the wrong time, his job was to score goals for Arsenal regardless of his personal circumstances. I remember one of Bendtners last games in an Arsenal shirt vs Cardiff on New Years Day, it was chucking it down with rain and we got soaked at the front of the north bank. Nicholas did nothing to warm us up putting in an insipid performance even a goal from the great Dane was met with ironic cheers. Wont be buying the book, he is everything that is wrong with modern day foreign Arsenal players.

    1. Dan Smith says:

      Why foreign?

    2. lcw says:

      So as a foreign Arsenal supporter am I less of a fan than “your kind”?

      1. Dan Smith says:

        No I was asking what he meant by modern day foreign Arsenal player ?

      2. Highbury Hero says:

        I think there is something he find wrong with modern day Arsenal foreign players but his post imply he has no issue with previous generation foreign Arsenal players for example the invincibles.

        What is it he find wrong with modern days Arsenal foreign players I would also like to know.

        1. Dan Smith says:

          Just think British players have been equally as guilty for doing what he says Bendnter is soing
          E.g. , read Jermaine Pennants book

  4. Frank Brady says:

    He scored the winner against the Spuds.
    Thanks Nic.

  5. Jax says:

    I liked Nic as a footballer and if he could have only been three quarters the player he thought he was he’d have been world class. But he gave us some memorable moments like a particular game against Burnley in 2010 when he missed seven or eight scorable chances and went on to a Champions League hat trick against Porto in his next match, had a goal wrongly overruled in the infamous 6-3 loss to City in 2013 and got into an on field fight with Adebayor.
    He usually played well for Denmark and dated a castle owning Danish royal with whom he had a child, but generally made an ar$e of himself off of the pitch.
    Great guy!

  6. Declan says:

    Good centre forward on his day and a legend for the fantastic goal against spurs but had his many faults although being made to play on the wing wasn’t his fault.

  7. jon fox says:

    Desperately sad story which shows that at core level, minus the glamour and monrey, players are like all other humans, fallible and in need of help at times. I could write much more on this subject which is right up my street.

    TBH, I am more interested in the psychology of what makes us humans behave than I am evev in football itself, despite being as passionate as I ever was about our club.
    I will say however , just one pertinent thought, which is that having a degree of fame, of glory , adulation and money to burn is a dangerous concept for many of us and I long for the day when all footballlers earn far less and are far less acclaimed, esp when still very young and before they have earned that respect.

    It damages many of them and also many of us, which is desperately upsetting. It is also avoidable if only all in football, from the governing bodies to all of us, had the will to act properly and enforce a more realistic wage structure, to be observed by all.

    FAME, GLORY AND ENDLESS MONEY IS A MONSTER THAN CAN AND DOES DESTROY PEOPLE! IS IT WORTH THAT PRICE?

    1. guy says:

      Agree Jon – this is by no means a purely football-related problem. You only need to look at others who attain wealth too easily. Surrounded by sycophants, believing all that they are told until ultimately unsure of who to trust, lonely – often the more honest friends are ostracised for talking the truth.
      Most of us take the biiggest pleasure from planning for and working to climb each small rung on the ladder. When you are suddenly paid so much that those targets, all those things you wanted are immediately available, you soon realise this is not Nirvana. No targets, no aspirations, often at a very young age. Talent goes, wealth goes, friends go. Arrogance goes too, but the damage has already been done…

  8. Declan says:

    Well said jon fox and guy.

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