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Media Spotlight: I Am the Secret Footballer by Anonymous

MS 18Feb Spotlight

OK, so strictly speaking this has nothing to do about the mortgage market, the economy, or anything else that would normally lead a book to being reviewed in Mortgage Strategy.

But whatever you might think about football, ultimately it’s a business like any other and worthy of discussion.

The Secret Footballer column has been going for more than two years in The Guardian and as the name would suggest, is written by an unknown footballer. Huge debate surrounds the actual identity of the player and if you search on the internet there are a number of theories about who he actually is.

Rather than being just a collection of the original columns, I Am The Secret Footballer is a sort of semi-anonymous auto-biography/ in-depth of analysis of UK football from the perspective of someone playing on the pitch.

Over 10 chapters he covers everything from bad behaviour and fans to tactics, agents and money.

If you’ve ever watched managers on TV bemoaning the fact that they can no longer motivate the player to do what they want then the section on managers will be particularly interesting to you.

He describes the different management strategies employed, the pressure they are under to perform and where the bad ones go wrong.

On the fans, he vividly describes what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the insults pelted at footballers every weekend.

While he concedes they can be witty he says he’s heard everything from people hoping his kids get AIDs to death threats.

As he points out, while it’s clearly impossible to eject 30,000 fans, players hear and have to put up with incredible insults that go unpunished.

But obviously, for a book on UK football, money and the vast sums of it flying around clubs via the players, agents and managers, dominates much of the book.

Coming from a working class background there are numerous stories of peoples’ reactions to his wealth. These range from old-school tweedy types sticking their noses up at he and other players’ behaviour when they have a lads out at the racing in Cheltenham to his friends and family giving the thumbs down to the upmarket restaurants his money now affords him.

With the vast sums of money flooding into the sport, he is matter of fact about why a player might choose to decide to flip from one team to another just for an additional £10,000 a week.

But in the final chapter, which charts both his and other players’ battle with depression, the moral of the story is ultimately that money doesn’t provide happiness.

Following a massive bill from the taxman he finds himself in need of cash and finding an IKEA bag filled with famous players’ shirts that he’s exchanged over the years, a potential auction could potentially have netted upwards of £50,000.

Instead he opts to give the shirts and all the football paraphernalia he’s accrued over the years to friends and family, which as he says, has allowed him to turn the page on a turbulent period of his life.

The book tantalises throughout with vague references to past and present players and situations.

I kept reading sections where the player’s name had been left and trying to work out who it could be.

Whoever the player is, he’s written a fantastic book by any benchmark and if you like football, provides a real incite into life on and off the pitch.

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