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Deano by Dean Windass with Simon Parker

Release date: 21st November, 2007
Publisher: Great Northern Books

List Price: £16.99
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There are any number of footballers who have made solid careers from playing for a variety of clubs, but very few ever become a cult figure in the way that Dean Windass has.

Deano looks like a mate you might meet in the pub, there's an air of mischief about him and on his day, he could drink for England; however, what endears him to football fans is his ability to find the net. His goals-to-games ratio is among the best in the modern game; little wonder that one of his former managers, Bryan Robson, declares that "wherever he's been, supporters have warmed to him and understood him. They see him as one of their own."

Worryingly, Deano kicks off by explaining the great man's pre-match ritual which starts at 2pm on Friday afternoon, providing chapter and verse on meals (chicken), music (Elvis and Roy Orbison) and his love of soaps (Emmerdale and Coronation Street would you believe?). Before the end of the first chapter, we've learnt that Deano washes his face three times before taking the pitch. 'Oh no,' you think, 'this is the bog-standard footballer's tale', but within a few pages, matters have improved markedly.

His parents' divorce when he was 13 clearly had a life-changing affect upon young Windass, but however debilitating the incident, it also has the effect of moving this book onto a completely different, more readable, level. It is at this point that we begin to appreciate Windass' inherent honesty, for he is quite open about the bed-wetting which plagued him until he was in his late twenties, about his much-delayed physical development and about his sessions with an Edinburgh psychologist while playing for Aberdeen.

We begin to root for him and feel aggrieved when he gets rejected by Hull, his hometown club, released by York because they have no money and trialled, but rejected again at Sunderland. Then his big break arrives as Terry Dolan, Hull's manager, awards him a three year contract on the basis of one game in the reserves. As Windass recounts his earlier setbacks and eventual triumph, it's difficult not to admire his sheer persistence and to appreciate his success.

His travels from Aberdeen to Sheffield, Oxford and Middlesbrough are well documented and laced with a regular flow of amusing anecdotes designed to maintain a smile on the reader's face. Two in particular stand out: a well-known incident which took place at the Belfry when he was playing for Sheffield United and found himself caught short, although fortunately, a ready supply of (one assumes very large) leaves came in handy. The other concerns Stan Collymore, lover of whale music and unusual shaving habits while sharing the showers with team-mates.

Perhaps what cements his affinity with hard-core football fans is his forthright opinion of Neil Warnock, erstwhile Sheffield United manager and quite possibly not on Deano's Christmas card list.

As for playing, his goal against Liverpool (at the Kop end) while featuring up front for Bradford City remains a career highlight, although beating the Reds on the final day of the season at Valley Parade to stay in the Premiership rates pretty highly too.

Deano is a book for football fans - an honest account of a career spent doing something he so obviously loves, although if the book has one drawback, it is the sloppy editing - names of cities such as Montpellier and words such as 'leant' should not be incorrectly spelt. Nevertheless, that should not spoil your enjoyment of reading about a man who has brought so much enjoyment to so many people.


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