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"Lord, I don't ask that I should win, but please, please don't let me finish behind Akabusi."

Innocent Egbunike's prayer at the 1988 Olympics

My family and the making of a footballer

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Jamie Rednapp, London 2020, ISBN 9781472271938

The book is not an autobiography of Rednapp’s career but rather an account of his early life and how he came into professional football. Growing up, the son of a famous manager, made his career choice almost inevitable.

He reveals himself as quite obsessive: “The night before a match I will take everything out of my bag that I have carefully put in there that morning. Boots, polished so that they shimmer. Shinpads, wiped clean and with the velcro strap fastened so it doesn’t catch on anything else. Shorts, folded into quarters. Shirt, folded with the sleeves”.

At times he does not mince his words – like his description of Tony Pulis and why Bournemouth were signing him: “After ten years of kicking people round the west of the country at Bristol Rovers and Newport County, he’s been brought to Dean Court by Dad to stiffen up the spine of the team. And kick more people...I see Tony put in tackles that are an arrestable offence”.

Rednapp is training with Tottenham but makes a very pragmatic choice that he will sign for Bournemouth instead fearing that he would not play enough at Tottenham for his career to develop. “I don’t want to be there. I’m going to get stuck. I’ll be lost. Never make the first team.”

He explains brilliantly the dynamics of a football squad and the insecurities of the players. As he struggles to get into the first team at Liverpool, he describes his experience: “My football is played almost exclusively in the reserves, in the Central League, and every day is a scrap. Liverpool have sides, the A team and the B team, and they’re both feral. A fight with the opposition and it’s a battle with my own team-mates… this is the selfishness of the footballer. It’s professional jealousy. When you’re not being picked, when the team is moving on without you, you almost want them to lose. It’s horrible admitting it to myself, but I don’t want to see Marsh scoring goals from midfield”.

Another experience at Liverpool may surprise the reader: “I don’t really want to drink. I want to be an athlete. I never do in. Try that in Liverpool and the senior players don’t like it. You stand out, so you get stick. This is all part of it. You have a drink and you play the game. That’s the culture”.

An unusual but very readable book

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