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"there has only ever been one perfect man, the Lord Jesus, and we killed him. I only missed a putt."

Berhard Langer on the 1991 Ryder Cup

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Glenn Hoddle, London, Harper Collins 2021 ISBN 978-0-00-849534-3

I need to declare an interest. I knew Glenn Hoddle in the period 1987-96 but have lost touch with him. I have had a number of faith-type conversations with him.

The book is much more thoughtful than the previous book, Spurred to success with more reflective comments. He writes of his own career: “I wasn’t understood in England, often being dismissed as a luxury player”. This is clearly important to him as it is started on page 4 and repeated on page 81!

His reflections on football in England are interesting: “In my opinion it goes back to England winning the World Cup in 1966. Sir Alf Ramsey built a fine side that we never moved on from that summer…I often wonder if George Best would have started for England in 1966, given that Sir Alf did not play with wingers”.

There is a great insight into the role of a manager of a smaller club. Shortly after being appointed manager of Swindon Town, Jeanie the laundry lady at Swindon Town came into his office saying that she had been promised two new washing machines and hoped that he would honour the decision.

Hoddle lost his job as England manager when Matt Dickinson wrote in The Times that Hoddle believed disabled people were being punished for sins in a previous life. Now, having talked to Hoddle about faith on several occasions, I always believed that Matt Dickinson had misrepresented Hoddle. The book gives Hoddle’s account of the 20 minute interview with Dickinson.

“The focus was on football and we were coming towards the end when the journalist caught me off guard by saying he was fascinated by my belief in reincarnation, adding that he was interested in the topic…I don’t think he understood the topic…he returned to the subject of disability twice after which I started to have misgivings over the direction the conversation was heading. The subject was too broad to tackle in a 20 minute interview. The information takes a lifetime to understand”.

On the Times article Hoddle writes:

“I took a phone call on a Friday saying that the story was about to come out in The Times about me claiming that disabled people were being punished because of sins from a past life. I was astonished and appalled. The last thing I wanted was for anyone with a disability to think that this was my view. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. They’re not my beliefs – they never have been and never will be. My belief is that the soul chooses to come back to learn about life. You choose your opportunity to come back. It’s a spiritual decision to return and experience positive and negative challenges. Reincarnation is something that people have to study for themselves. If it’s not for me to define it”.

In his previous book Hoddle refers to developing an interest in Jesus, being affected by seeing the birth place of Jesus in Bethlehem, starting to attend church etc. Here he writes about spirituality stating that it is “nothing to do with religion”. The faith healer, Eileen Drewery, whom he controversially brought into the England team is described in the previous book as believing in Jesus with her powers coming from God. Here she is described as a faith healer with an explanation: “we all have that healing energy inside us…But the process speeds up if you are someone who’s ready to embrace spiritual methods.”

Examples of his spirituality are expressed in relation to the death of his father and brother [Carl]: “I believe that a spirit knows when our time has come…my belief in the afterlife made it easier to overcome losing Carl. I still have a connection with him. It is nothing to do with religion. I believe that our spirit lives on after we die.”

Another difference between his two books is that family life seemed very important in the first book with several photos with his wife and children. There are five brief references to Anne Hoddle “my first wife” and a reference to partner Lisa but nothing about his shared life.



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