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Forever Young By Oliver Kay

Release date: 19th May, 2016
Publisher: Quercus

List Price: £20.00
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It could be argued with some conviction that Oliver Kay is Britain’s best sports journalist. His illuminating columns are invariably well-researched; his arguments constructed with the precision of a structural engineer.

Each of these traits are evident in his first book, Forever Young, the tale of Adrian Doherty, a teenage winger who once eclipsed Ryan Giggs at Manchester United, who was offered a five-year contract by Sir Alex Ferguson when he was just 17, who stood on the cusp of a glittering career before serious injury put paid to that. He died, aged just 26, after falling into a canal in Holland.

A disappointingly large number of promising teenage boys fail to break through into first team football at every club in the land, but according to Giggs himself and an impressive list of others who know something about football, including Sir Alex Ferguson and Gary Neville, Adrian Doherty was something very special indeed.

But he was also very different from most young footballers. His love of music – not the blingy, barely literate tosh absorbed by many of his peers, but Bob Dylan – poetry, the study of theology and his willingness to busk in central Manchester on Saturday afternoon after playing for United’s ‘A’ team in the morning (he would give his complimentary tickets away) set him apart.

Doherty was a free spirit who aspired to become a better musician and gain a greater understanding of life; he just happened to be an outstanding footballer at one of the country’s biggest clubs. He didn’t self-destruct, hit the bottle and whinge about how he could have been a contender; his story is, nonetheless tragic and in Holt he has an admirable biographer.

But this is no ‘misery memoir’, more a beautifully-written tale of a happy-go-lucky, music-loving lad, his unconsummated promise and tragic death the day before his 27th birthday.

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