Nine of the best quotes from footballer autobiographies, ft Suarez, Batty, Rio…
Footballer autobiographies can sometimes be rather banal and anodyne – but the best of them are packed full of brilliant quotes and anecdotes.
Even the usually impressively-boring Michael Owen managed to squeeze plenty of sensationalism into his autobiography so it goes without saying that some of the game’s more entertaining characters haven’t held back in their books.
Here are nine memorable quotes from some of the best around.
There are a lot of football books out there that involve glamourous names telling even more glamourous stories. There are very few that give you a relatable tale.
Jamie Vardy is one of the finest players in the Premier League now, but boy did he have to work to get there, and it’s all detailed in his book From Nowhere, My Story.
“I reached into the thin blue carrier bag, pulled out the first can of Stella and cracked it open. It was 11am on Bank Holiday Monday, the streets around Leicester city centre were quiet and for the next seven hours a needle loaded with ink was going to be jamming into my ribs, stomach, hips and back. A four-pack was my anaesthetic.”
Very few footballers, and indeed people, have a better tale to tell than Luis Suarez. From his humble beginnings in Uruguay to ultimate World Cup bad-boy and Liverpool legend along the way.
He isn’t scared of an opinion; even the wrong ones such as the passage in the book where he describes Jon Flanagan as ‘Liverpool’s new Jamie Carragher,’ are honest and genuine.
His book, ‘crossing the line’ can be a dark read at times, but it’s a hugely engaging one.
“When even the Prime Minister is passing comment on your behavior, it’s probably time to think about leaving the country.”
Batty is one of those great icons from the 1990s that you almost feel guilty about sometimes forgetting. You won’t find any wonder-goal montages on Youtube, but Batty mattered in English football.
He was a champion of England twice, first for Leeds and again for Blackburn, and missed a vital World Cup penalty. His book might be unimaginatively titled ‘The Autobiography’ but don’t be fooled. It’s full of brilliant stories about a great era of English football.
In fact, there is an entire chapter dedicated to the night Vinnie Jones broke into his house and jumped him in bed…
“It was about 2am and there was enough moonlight to see across my open-plan garden, unprotected by fences or even hedges … Vinnie jumped into his Mini and wheel-skidded it across the lawn. Then he fairly screamed off down the road and we could hear him really giving it some stick around the estate.”
Another of the highly unimaginative ‘My Autobiography’ crowd, Allardyce’s book is interesting as it covers such a long time span that ultimately charts English football’s journey from modest working-class roots to international money-laden powerhouse.
It doesn’t cover his ill-fated one-match spell in his dream job of managing England, but it’s a great read from one of the biggest characters our football has to offer.
”All this tippy-tappy stuff – everybody keeps on going about the right way to play football – is all a load of b******s sometimes. Getting the ball into the opposition box as quickly as you can with quality is definitely sometimes the best way forward.”
Very few players are made like Denis Bergkamp. The Dutch legend has the soul of an artist and the feet of a master craftsman. It actually took him a while to find a club and a coach capable of deciphering his obscene level of artistry, but he’s a player that probably has never been replicated since.
‘Stillness and Speed’ – a recognition of the calmness of mind yet speed of thought that defined him as a player – is a stonkingly good read for a truly unique perspective on football.
“He [Arsene Wenger] used statistics on me and one time I said to him: ‘Where in your statistics does it say that I changed the game with a killer pass?’”
Okay, we’ll deal with the elephant in the room here immediately – ‘#2Sides’ is probably the most stupid title for an autobiography you can think of. Now, since that is out the way…
Ferdinand, like in his playing career, is not shy about coming forward. He offers some fascinating insights into football at the very top ad he does so without fear of upsetting people.
The book is also the home of some remarkable tales about David Moyes’ disastrous spell at Manchester United, and Ferdinand’s obvious dislike for the Scot only makes them more fun.
“It was embarrassing. In one home game against Fulham we had 81 crosses! I was thinking, why are we doing this? Andy Carroll doesn’t play for us! The whole approach was alien. Other times Moyes wanted lots of passing. He’d say: ‘Today I want us to have 600 passes in the game. Last week it was only 400’. Who cares? I’d rather score five goals from ten passes.”
From Rio Ferdinand’s ridiculous autobiography title to the sublime of Andrea Pirlo’s ‘I think therefore I Play’. Pirlo was one of those players whose football was a mere extension of his personality, and that made him unforgettably unique.
In fact, his football always just inspired intrigue over the personality, and that’s what this book completely satisfies. It’s tough to envision how anyone can truly lay claim to understanding the evolution of football in Europe over the past 20 years without reading ITTIP. It will also change the way you look at life, the universe, love, relationships, wine, and worrying.
“You might hit upon an elegant phrase that stays with you and makes the journey that little bit less bitter. I’ve tried with Istanbul and haven’t managed to get beyond these words: for f**k’s sake.”
The saying ‘he’s not everyone’s cup of tea’ often feels insufficient with Joey Barton, because I am not sure he is actually anyone’s cup of tea. That, though, only makes his autobiography ‘No Nonsense’ an even more fascinating read.
Barton has an image. There is no doubting that. It’s an image that may or may not be deserved. Brilliantly, Barton does not try to change anyone’s mind in his book, and it never feels like he is chasing popularity. He hides from nothing – not even his spell in prison – and simply invites you to peek behind the curtain of his often-haunting story.
“Violence is strangely hypnotic, almost organic in its purity.”
Roy Keane’s first autobiography was probably his most explosive, but his follow-up ‘Second Half’ was his best. It was a more reflective, less angry yet just as intolerant Roy Keane who had been humbled by management outside the protective bubble of Manchester United.
It is still packed with great stories from his time at the top of the game, as well as some insights into Keane the manager.
“He [Cristiano Ronaldo] was up against John O’Shea. Sheasy ended up seeing the doctor at half time because he was actually having dizzy spells. The club concluded negotiations after the game and we always joked with Sheasy he had actually sealed the deal by playing like a f**king clown.”