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Graduation: Life Lessons of a Professional Footballer By Richard Lee

Release date: 19th January, 2012
Publisher: Bennion Kearny

List Price: £9.99
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Brentford's Griffin Park is clearly visible from the M4 to occupants of cars heading west along the motorway's invariably slow-moving and meandering elevated section en route to Heathrow airport and beyond. Even the club's die-hard fans would agree that it would take an enormous leap of imagination to call this 20 mph glimpse of a football stadium inspirational. The Nou Camp it ain't.

Yet the ground, Brentford's home since 1904, acts as a warm-hearted backdrop to one of the most original and intelligent football books to appear for many years.

Goalkeeper Richard Lee may be a professional footballer, but his life is nothing like that of a pampered Premier League prima donna. He is not rolling in money, he doesn't drive a Baby Bentley, nor regularly parade along red carpets with a glamorous WAG in tow.

In fact, Lee opens by telling readers that, "I don't love football. I never have", an unusual admission which might cast him as that rare beast, a footballing heretic, but he is quick to explain why. The game has been responsible for causing him relentless emotional turmoil, making him chronically nervous and inflicting serious injury.

These are not, however, a series of groundless moans, which makes the book's purpose all the more intriguing as Lee sets out on a journey (which starts as he moves from Watford to Brentford) to establish what makes him tick.

Unlike the majority of his profession, he is extraordinarily well read and is proud of gaining a recognised qualification in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which he believes was responsible for him enjoying his most successful-ever season in 2010-11.

He questions many of football's established norms and creates a unique method of preparing and training his mind which produces an impressively consistent run of form.

"Football has been a game against myself," he writes, "a profession that has taught me more about myself than any book ever could." Lee is an intelligent footballer capable of composing a raft of similar comments, which makes Graduation such a compelling read.


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