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I am the Secret Footballer By Anonymous

Release date: 18th October, 2012
Publisher: Guardian Books

List Price: £12.99
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It's interesting to read some of the online comments written in the wake of this book's publication and wonder whether anyone believes they've been duped.

Many people will wrestle with a raft of online conclusions made by a variety of folk which, while undoubtedly written in good faith, declare that they know exactly who the author is. His identity remains a mystery to your reviewer and I'm not convinced anyone else knows who he is either, because - shock, horror - I'm not completely sure the 'Secret Footballer' actually exists.

Surprisingly few others have arrived at a similar conclusion, despite any concrete evidence suggesting it's been written by player X or Y.

There's little point in picking Secret Footballer up if you're anticipating Premier League gossip and tittle-tattle, or if you expect the author (whomever he or she is) to dish the dirt on high profile players. Instead, readers get what purports to be a well-written 'insight' into the mind of an intelligent, Guardian-reading footballer who at the weekends likes nothing better than flicking through the FT .

Initially, I thought the author was a degree-educated, Merseyside-born ex-footballer who played at the highest level for club and country, although the dates quoted in this book fail to coincide with this hunch. Such a player did exist and so unusual was he, in terms of his footballing and educational prowess, that he was a regular subject for feature writers. It's hard to think of another English player similar to this since the Premier League kicked off.

While most of the material in Secret Footballer regarding players, managers, agents and the extraordinary amount of money swilling around the top flight makes for an engaging read, there's very little here which is new. A creative sports writer could have easily assembled Secret Footballer provided he or she knew a couple of players at different clubs.

In other words, while well written, I suspect Secret Footballer is what the author imagines life is like behind the scenes, rubbing shoulders with highly-paid superstars, high-profile managers, their agents and the press. In all likelihood then, this is a work of fiction, but no less enjoyable for that, although perhaps it should have been called the Phantom Footballer.


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