I’ve been a regular reader of the Guardian’s column written by the Secret Footballer. At first I assumed it was a made up regular article, written by a member of the newspaper’s staff to attempt to put their spin on the rhyme or reason behind some of the far-fetched stories that apparently go on on a regular basis.
But this new book, expanding on the columns, leaves us in no doubt that the Secret Footballer is real. This book lifts the lid on almost every aspect of the game today, from the role of agents, to the justification of the money footballers earn today.
Quite who the identity of the Secret Footballer is has been a close guarded secret for a number of years but there are plenty of clues in this new book that if fed into a computer, would reveal one or two very likely candidates (I myself have a pretty good idea who it is based on the contents of the book). There is even a website set up specifically to the identity of the player.
Starting from his first steps in football, the SF lifts the lid on such important aspects of the game as why fines are levied on players, dealings with the media, what exactly goes on at Christmas Parties and why players deserve every penny they get. It is almost a reference book for every question you have ever asked yourselves about the day to day goings on at a football club.
This isn’t a book to justify the whys and wherefores of professional footballers. The SF is not after any foregiveness for taking an extra £10k a week or spending ridiculous amounts of money on a night out, but is trying to give readers a warts ‘n’ all insight into the life of a professional footballer.
The SF is not shy in telling us who he respects in the game, and who he has little time for. Ashley Cole, John Terry and especially Robbie Savage are not covered in glory in the book, making him even more likeable in the average fans eyes, whilst his admiration and respect for Paul Scholes comes over on a trip to Old Trafford.
He also explores the role that tactics actually play in the modern game. Whilst many of us may think that tactics are simply a myth, his explanation of what happens in certain situations is a revelation. What makes it even better is that he uses recent examples from the end of last season’s Premier League as well as Euro2012.
After reading numerous footballers “stories”, this book lifts the lid on all of the details we want to really know. Quite what the backlash will be if (or more likely, once) his identity is revealed I do not know, but for now grab a copy and enjoy/despair/laugh/cry at the detail.