Dan’s Top Ten Football autobiographies – Including Adams and Wrighty

So I thought I would start a new feature. Apart from a brief run or quick trip to the shops we can’t leave our houses at the moment. Clearly writing is one of my ways of escapism but how else can we fill up our spare time?

If ever there was a time to read a book, watch a movie, etc, now would be it. So in the spirit of football, here are the top 10 football autobiographies I have read (I stress that I read).

I love a top 10 list…..

10- My Story – Steven Gerrard
My housemate supports Liverpool, so this was one of those ‘I’ll read it before I wrap it up for a gift’. Biggest takeaway from the book? Boy, does he love the Reds!

The book starts with him describing the pain of that back pass against Chelsea, and ends with the pain of that pass back for England in Brazil. He grieves like he’s lost a spouse, talking about being in tears and needing to get out of the country. It is also fascinating to hear how he talked Suarez out of joining us. Cheers for that Gerrard..

9- No Nonsense – Joey Barton
The problem with any autobiography is if you’re willing to buy it means you like that subject. If you like that subject, there’s a good chance you’re going to know information about him or her. That’s why I found this release appealing. Barton is one of the few players who will tell you how he really feels.

The truth is that, and the fact he was in jail is the only reason he would get a publisher, not what he did on the pitch. How many other footballers will you read about clinging onto a tin of baked beans in case you get jumped in prison? It’s not the right reason to have your own book and I feel bad helping him make money out of it.

He’s intellectually smart and says the right things. Is that though reflecting or simply passive aggressive?

8- Life in Football – Ian Wright
I always thought that very few players loved Arsenal like Ian Wright. Then I read this and boy …. few loved Arsenal like Ian Wright.

It’s not only higher because I heard some of his stories before but WOW what stories. The way he speaks about staying around at David Rocastle’s house, staying up all night hearing stories about ‘The Arsenal’ or his sadness on the day he left, (he walked into one room to be told by David Dein he was being sold, walks into another with West Ham waiting ) makes the hairs stand up on your arm.

He’s honest about how he forced out Bruce Rioch and how he would never forgive how Graham Taylor would treat him for England. His struggles during the transition into TV are more interesting than you might think…

7- Mental – Bad Behaviour, Ugly Truths and the Beautiful Game – Jermaine Pennant

Is this a kind of a guilty pleasure? It feels wrong given what he admits to in this book that I’m advertising a product that makes him money. At this time last year our ex midfielder was appearing on the likes of Big Brother trying to convince the world he’s changed. Yet just because you’re honest about your past doesn’t make that okay.
I don’t know what’s worse? The behaviour he got up to or the fact he’s so happy to admit it and go into such detail?

Whether it’s his sick ‘Monopoly’ game with women, playing while hung over, or his failure to turn his back on a gang, this confirms the negative perception so many have of footballers. He clearly had a bad childhood, but so did others and they didn’t do what he did.

The saddest conclusion to take away, is he thinks he somehow overachieved

6 -Reboot – My Life, My Time – Michael Owen
It’s funny, it’s okay for others to reveal all, but Owen seemed to get criticised for doing the same thing, I assume because it was proving his perception of being boring wrong.

Wherever it’s how many times he wanted to return to Liverpool, why he hated his time at Newcastle, or his jealously of when Rooney broke through at England, etc. Owen each time gives credibility to his point of view.
It’s not like he’s trying to change your mind on subjects either, nor though does he care what others think.

5 -My Autobiography – Alex Ferguson
This is why I can’t wait for Arsene Wenger to do the same. Imagine the stories you have for over two decades at a club. Sir Alex made headlines for who and how he criticised in his book, but did some not take him a bit too serious?

Did he really believe that he only worked with three world class players at Old Trafford? Did he really think Gerrard was overrated? Does he really blame Hargreaves for his injury problems? Or was he not simply advised to say a few controversial things so he could make as much money as possible out of it?

It worked…

4 -The Second Half – Roy Keane
If there was one player who was going to respond back to Sir Alex’s book it was Roy Keane. Whether you think he does it as an act or he really is that miserable, you couldn’t quite put this book down, like you have to listen to him as a pundit. Doesn’t mean you agree with his point of view but it’s better than someone being PC.

If anything there was too much pressure on this book to be explosive as at that point, we knew about his interview with MUTV, that tackle on Hangeland, the World Cup 2002, etc. It finds the balance of being hard but also with some humour as well.

He doesn’t sign Robbie Savage based on a voice mail.

3 -Addicted – Tony Adams
If that 4th goal against Everton did ‘sum it all up’ it was the classic ‘actions say a thousand words’. Until you read those famous words and my goodness, he left it all on the page

We think we know his story. We know he was an alcoholic, but this tells you what’s it’s like to live with addiction. Whether it was a big game for us, after training, even at Euros or World Cups, it’s incredible the anguish this man was going through.

Reading it, it’s amazing to think how his life turned out compared to where it was heading. That’s got to be inspirational to everyone. The book has more meaning then just tearing an ex-teammate to pieces.

2 -My Life in Football – Kevin Keegan
As a player and manager he wore his heart on his sleeve. Yet away from the game, his legal team have always helped him stay …. away from the game.

Go on YouTube. You’re not going to find loads of sit-down interviews with the man discussing Newcastle or England. So it was rare that I felt like I was hearing his point of view for the first time on some subjects (he does not like Mike Ashley). Isn’t that the feeling you should get from an autobiography?

1 -Sol Campbell – Autobiography
As I already mentioned, I like to find out things I didn’t know about that person when reading football autobiographies. That’s what just makes this my first pick.

Sol did interviews about football but never addressed rumours about his personal life. I sensed the defender was a deep thinker but my gosh I didn’t realise how much of a loner this man was. He trusted few and those who were his friends were his friends for life. He reached out to them at his lowest ebb.

He has a favourite coffee bar in London where he would meet the same mate whenever things were bothering him (the treatment from Spurs fans hurt him deeply). 2-1 down once to West Ham after he made two mistakes, the defender walked out of Highbury at half time. You find out here that he left the country and mentally didn’t want to come back. That was one of many complex stories.

You would be shocked to read how he views certain things…

Are there any other football autobiographies that should be in my top 10? And are there any other lists you would like?

Be kind in the comments?

Dan Smith


  1. What about The Romford Pele?
    It’s a great read and very funny, also Paul Merson’s book, the name of which escapes me at present.

  2. Patrick Vieria’s “Vieria” is a good read, especially regarding the time leading up to and actually leaving the club.

    Like you Dan, can’t wait for AW’s book. I just hope he covers all aspects of his time – the us, the fans, will be able to discuss on facts rather than fiction, including his exit from the club and how it occurred.

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