Autobiography/Biography of the Year
On 10 November 2009 the German national goalkeeper, Robert Enke, stepped in front of a passing train. He was thirty-two years old, and appeared to have it all.
Ronald Reng here pieces together the puzzle of his lost friend’s life, shedding light on the demands and fears faced by those who play top-level sport.
When it comes to advice on the pitfalls of life as a professional footballer, Paul Merson can pretty much write the manual. In fact, that’s exactly what he’s done in this hilarious new book which manages to be simultaneously poignant and gloriously funny.
Merson was a prodigiously talented footballer in the 80s and 90s, gracing the upper echelons of the game – and the tabloid front pages – with his breathtakingly skills and larger-than-life off-field persona.
His much-publicised battles with gambling, drug and alcohol addiction are behind him now, and football fans continue to be drawn to his sharp footballing brain and playful antics on SkySports cult results show Soccer Saturday.
The book delights and entertains with a treasure chest of terrific anecdotes from a man who has never lost his love of football and his inimitable joie de vivre through a 25-year association with the Beautiful Game.
Jonny is the unrelenting, brutally honest account of one of the most revered, successful and complex athletes ever to play rugby for England. Jonny Wilkinson’s career has crossed three decades and four World Cups. He has accumulated phenomenal achievements, world points records, an impressive list of broken body parts, and a drop goal that will be remembered for ever. But the peculiar calmness with which he played the game masked a very different reality. In Jonny, he reveals the extraordinary psychology that he had to tame in order to be able to dominate his sport. For most of his life, he was driven by a quest for perfection and an obsession to be the best player in the world; here he shows how these two facets of his competitive mind took such a hold of him that they sent him to the top of the world, then swept him up and dragged him down into a spiral of despair. Jonny’s career has spanned the far reaches: amazing highs and iconic moments, then a fight against injury that culminated in a battle with depression. Here he tells of the physical toll he knew his body was taking from rugby, even from his youth; he tells of how he never wanted to be a kicking fly-half but learned to adapt his natural game to play the style that Clive Woodward believed necessary to win a World Cup, and how he nearly walked out on Martin Johnson’s England team 13 years later.
At the age of 18, David Millar was tipped to be the next English-speaking Tour winner, signed to the Cofidis team, who had one Lance Armstrong on their books. But he lived the high life a little too enthusiastically – high on a roof after too much drink, he broke his heel in a fall, and before long the pressure to succeed had tipped over into doping. Here, in a full and frank autobiography, David Millar recounts the story from the inside: he doped because ‘cycling’s drug culture was like white noise’, and because of peer pressure. ‘I doped for money and glory in order to guarantee the continuation of my status.’ Five years on from his arrest, Millar is clean and reflective, and holds nothing back in this account of his dark years.
No player has been more synonymous with the glory years of Manchester United Football Club over the past two decades than right-back Gary Neville. An Old Trafford regular since he attended his first match at the age of six, captain of the brilliant 1992 FA Youth Cup-winning team that became known as ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’, outspoken representative of MUFC, Neville is the ultimate one-club man. He has been at the heart of it all and, at the end of an amazing career, is now ready to tell it all.
Authoritative, insightful, fearless and never less than 100% honest, no-one has better credentials for documenting the story of United under Sir Alex Ferguson. Neville reveals the behind-the-scenes secrets of his early days with the likes of Giggs, Scholes and his best mate David Beckham; what it was like to play with Cantona, Keane and Ronaldo; the Treble in 1999; and of course an entire career of playing for the greatest manager in the game.
For twenty glorious years, Gary Neville has worn his heart on his sleeve.
This is his story.
In Taking a Punt on My Life snooker legend Willie Thorne bares his soul, talking openly and frankly about his life – the good times and the bad – his talent, his crippling gambling addiction, his suicide bid and his inspirational recovery from the brink. Brutally honest and at times painful to read, the book is by turns harrowing, uplifting and in places hilariously funny as it relives snooker’s golden era.
Graeme Swann’s transformation from international outsider to England’s match-winner and the best spin bowler in the world has been remarkably rapid.
Yet, as Swann reveals in The Breaks Are Off, it almost didn’t happen. Not picked again after the 1999–2000 tour of South Africa, it looked as if his would be an international career wasted. A move from Northamptonshire to Nottinghamshire saw his domestic career revitalised, and Swann eventually made his Test debut for England in 2008, taking two wickets in his first over – now something of a party piece.
Swann has since taken in excess of 150 Test wickets, won the Ashes twice, captained the Twenty20 team, and helped England become the world number one Test team. In The Breaks Are Off, Swann combines his unique sense of humour with overwhelming honesty to recap his remarkable journey.