You might be aware of the phenomenon that is The Secret Footballer – a pseudonym given to a current Premier League footballer that has been, for the past 18 or so months, confessing the inner workings of modern football at the highest level via a column in the The Guardian newspaper. It’s fascinating stuff. But the book is truly something that all fans would need to read.
I Am The Secret Footballer touches on many subjects about the beautiful game – from exactly how bonuses and specific tactics work to WAG culture and the champagne lifestyle. But what’s most intriguing is that the player’s concealed identity is the cause of much speculation.
In the book, and indeed column, we learn that the player is English, married, has a daughter, has played under at least 4 managers, has been a record signing at a club, played for at least two Premier League clubs, came up through the lower leagues, has been a club captain and doesn’t like Robbie Savage. OK, the last point could be literally any player in England, but the rest of them – allowing for red herrings, of course – provokes much talk amongst fans.
This website, dedicated especially to finding out who the player is, goes into great detail analysing the columns and the book word-for-word. Rio Ferdinand, Darren Bent and Paul Robinson have been dismissed but a lot of evidence looks at Kevin Davies, Andy Johnson, Danny Murphy and Dave Kitson (TSF indeed describes a moment very similar to this in both the book and the column). But no doubt there has been bit of misinformation designed to throw the reader off track as the player would, for his own sake as well as others, need total anonymity.
Whoever he is, it’s really an amazing eye opener. In the book, he is brutally honest about footballers’ thoughts on the fans, dealing with the media, the fame, the big time, scoring in the big games, contracts, other players (some even name-checked) and even his own depression – which is still a major taboo in football, even though the player was diagnosed with it in 2002.
It takes balls to write a book like this – even anonymously. And as far as football books go, it is – and I am not keen on using this term – a page turner. But that’s exactly what it is. The inner workings of football are exposed and anyone with an interest in football needs to get a copy of this immediately. I don’t usually rate anything. I especially don’t rate anything out of five – but just this once I am giving this five out of five.