Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughEverything you need to know about the ‘autobiographies’ of football stars - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Everything you need to know about the ‘autobiographies’ of football stars - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Everything you need to know about the ‘autobiographies’ of football stars

For me, commuting up and down the country on dull, typecast trains with about as much atmosphere and personality as Gareth Southgate can only be made bearable by the companionship of a good book.

Sadly, the quality of some of the recent books I’ve had to slog my way through have done little to detract me from wallowing in the boredom of 3 hour, multiple change, train journeys.

Take Roman Abramovich’s autobiography for instance, which, unlike anything else you can buy with a Chelsea logo on it, cost me 50p from a local charity shop – great places to buy cut price sport books incidentally, which normally have obscene retail prices at first point of purchase.

‘Keeping busy: Having been dropped by Chelsea, Anelka finds time for other money making schemes’

Firstly, it should be said that when picking up an autobiography by one of the mega rich sports stars these days, you usually know what you’re going to get – they probably didn’t write it and one way or another the story usually falls neatly into the same sort of plot line.

For example, they always have to tell you of a time when they didn’t have money (even if that time was when they were a toddler and nobody has money), or how they lived in strife with impoverished parents (usually on some sink estate in a rundown city), and how they, just like the rest of us, really did have a ‘normal’ upbringing. From zero to hero and all that.

For most sporting autobiographies, the plot line is about as predictable as the dozens of Walt Disney films. You’d be forgiven for thinking that one extraordinarily hard working nun is holed up somewhere writing all the ‘auto’biographies of our rich and famous sports stars.

Now, Mr. Abramovich may not be a ‘sports star’ but he most certainly is a huge figure in the world of football, as he was in 2004 when the book was released. And frankly, the title of Mr. Abramovich’s autobiography sums this up his willingness to comply with the sports star autobiography story board – ‘The Billionaire from Nowhere’ – clearly referring to his meteoric rise from the depths of poverty to a whopping luxury lifestyle.

And it has to be said, the Russian did it spectacularly quickly. A bit too quickly more than a few might say, raising an eyebrow.  However, Abramovich misses, or refuses more likely, the chance to counter the accusations that he has made his billions by investing a lot time into doing deals with unsavoury characters in the Soviet Union, of whom there were many to choose from!

The book is woefully short on detail, not least about how he made the transition from selling toys a street stall to the small matter of a $50 million dollar takeover of Sibneft Oil Company. Suspicious? Maybe, or perhaps he was just really good at selling toys? You decide.

Perhaps it’s just his short memory, after all, we’re told that Frank Lampard was brought in by the Abramovich administration and that Adrian Mutu was bought from Real Madrid. Of course, neither of these are true, in fact, they’re comically elementary errors.

So bad in fact is the attempt to hijack the previous board’s purchase of Frank Lampard, who has been Chelsea’s best player under Abramovich’s governance despite the millions he’s spent personally, that he could not have relied on nobody noticing. Even I will give him the benefit of the doubt here.

Personally, the book did very little for me, I’d much rather recommend to you the biography of another Chelsea icon, and one of the genuine successes amongst the players Abramovich actually bought – Nicolas Anelka, whose autobiography uniquely breaks the code of the usual sports star account.

The aptly titled ‘It’s not me it’s everyone else’ is the way Le Sulk suitably sums up how footballers, and particularly the Frenchman, see themselves and the rest of the world from the top of their very high, and very mighty, pedestal.

It’s honest, it’s funny and there really is nothing, and I mean nothing, left out of the strikers account. ‘I left Real Madrid because nobody passed to me in training’, he bemoans – absolute textbook Anelka. There’s just one glaring error to watch out for throughout the account though – Nicolas Anelka really is nowhere near as good as he thinks he is!

Michael Smith
Twitter; @Mr_MichaelSmith

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