Football Autobiographies: Best reads for 2017
Football autobiographies are an incredible source of knowledge for anyone who dreams of becoming a professional football player. Player who read these books can learn from the most experienced football professionals across the world and get insider knowledge into the game. We have compiled a list of the best football autobiographies of players and managers from within the beautiful game.
Why Read Football Autobiographies?
There is no ‘hidden secret’ to making it as a professional football player. Just bags of hard work and dedication to reaching your goal. However, there are several steps you can take to help progress to the highest level of the game. Whether you’re just starting out, or continuing in your footballing journey, it’s important to have realistic goals and role models who have been in your position before. Ask any professional football player, and they will have had an inspirational role model (or two) during their youth, and likely read many football autobiographies from players who they could learn vital tips and techniques from. These mentors can help improve your football knowledge in all aspects of the game, so find a quiet corner and take some time out to read a good football autobiography.
Nowadays, modern day professional footballers, coach’s and managers are so high profile, it is near impossible to get near them. So any attempt to get advice, will more than likely end in failure. This is the beauty of a well-written autobiography. They allow you to get into the mind of your idol. In fact some of the best football books come in the from of an autobiography.
Think of some of the most influential football personalities in the world. Almost all of them have a published biography or autobiography. Knowledge of the experiences that have propelled football players to the highest level, are key to achieving your goals and developing your own football. The best thing is, these legends are happy to share their stories hoping to inspire young players to reach new heights so you aren’t short of choice!
An insightful football autobiography will allow you to stand on the shoulders of your idols. T see further because of what these players or managers have achieved. Whether the biography is a footballing hero who has conquered the world, or a manager whose career ended in controversy. There is an unlimited number of lessons you can learn from their behaviour and life experiences. Even if it’s what not to do.
[pullquote]”Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
Edmund Burke[/pullquote] The best football autobiographies remind us that professional players are human and what someone has achieved before can happen again. Understand the real experiences of football players, as this will give context to the decisions you will face on your journey through football. However iconic a player may seem, they are all human and what they have achieved, can and will be repeated by others who can relate to their path.
The Best Football Autobiographies
It is important for any footballer to understand the game inside out. This will enable you to get a view of what it takes to make it. We have selected the best football player autobiographies and football manager autobiographies. To give you a well rounded view of the game itself. From top level internationals to the perception of lower league journeymen. The information and experiences collated in these books are invaluable and entertaining. So sit back, relax and immerse yourself in some of the best football books of all time.
The best 25 football autobiographies from footballers and football managers are below in order of popularity:
The 50 Best Football Autobiographies
Mick “Baz” Rathbone grew up as a diehard Birmingham City fan. Realising his boyhood dream when he signed an apprenticeship with the club in the 70s. But, his progression suffered as he struggled with confidence at training. Finding it near impossible to play alongside his idol Trevor Francis. Later, Baz earned cult hero status at both Blackburn and Preston. Before ending his playing career due to injury in 1991.
Moving into football management with an unsuccessful term at lower league Halifax. Mick then turned to study, embarking on a four year physiotherapy course. Which lead him to join David Moyes backroom staff in the noughties as Everton’s Head of Medicine. With many Evertonians describing Rathbone as Moyes’s best signing.
This book shows Mick’s sense of humour throughout. Emphasised in many embarrassing stories, sometimes with colourful language. However, the book also highlight some serious issues over-looked in football. His insight into the unfair treatment of youth players, has developed a passion for him to influence change in modern day football.
Three words to describe this book: Funny, Unexpected, Thoughtful.
No of Pages: 264
Click here to buy The Smell of Football – Football Autobiography
Paul Lake was a young player with immense potential. Holding his own against the likes Gheorghe Hagi and Paul Gascoigne in his early years. He has the world at his feet. But, an injury hit career led to a spiral into clinical depression and desperate cries for help.
This thought provoking read, shows the dark parameters of football. Exploring the mental issues of how a player reacts after the thrill of player is long behind them. Lake guides the reader through his time playing for his beloved Manchester City and England U21’s. And how this lead to checking himself into the Priory and the struggles to come out the other side.
Ghost-written by Paul’s wife Joanne. This hard hitting real autobiography delves into areas that most football autobiographies won’t. Making it a must read for any football enthusiasts out there.
Three words to describe this book: Raw, Moving, Unmerciful.
Click here to buy I’m Not Really Here – football autobiography
Often described as Marmite (love him or hate him), the footballing maverick known as Zlatan is one of a kind. Blessed with an incredible touch and a sublime array of skills on the pitch. Possessing self confidence bordering on arrogance, his larger than life character, has no limits.
Written by best selling Swedish writer David Lagercrantz, taking a figurative Zlatan voice. This book is full of amusing anecdotes and terrifying stories. By the end of this read you will discover how the man became Zlatan. Fresh, open and fascinating, ‘I am Zlatan’ takes a different angle from the usual rigid, run of the mill football autobiography.
Whether it’s criticising the management style of the ‘Cowardly’ Pep Guardiola. Or praising the coaching styles of Mourinho and Fabio Capello, this book is never short of controversy. The early chapters are dramatic and compelling. Capturing the marvelous perception of an immigrant’s life growing up in Malmo, Sweden. This overview is at sometimes graphic, as Zlatan fights for survival, respect and recognition.
As you progress through this book, you get a sense of who Zlatan Ibrahimovic is. Whilst learning his on the field thought process. As his explains the ‘flashbulb moments’ throughout a match. And how they manifest into defense baffling moves. This is a much needed change from coaches who aim to stifled free spirit with conformity.
Three words to describe this book: Humorous, perception changing, inspiring.
Click here to buy I Am Zlatan: My Story on and Off the Field – football autobiography
My Autobiography is the eagerly awaited memoirs of the greatest British football manager of all time. Published the year after Alex Ferguson retired as Manager of United. This book pulls no punches as Fergie lets his feelings known about his 27 years at the helm.
Find out the full story behind the Beckham changing room bust up. And Sir Alex’s real feelings towards the Ex England captain. His support for Rio as he missed that drug test in 2003 and how disruptive Roy Keane characters was. His respect for fellow managers including José Mourinho and his thoughts on the billionaire money now dictating the game.
From politics to horse racing, Fergie bares all. Including how influential powers sought his advice on matters of national importance. His utter detest for the British media, is an ever present message throughout this biography.
This book is an incredible read, from one of the most powerful managers in the game.
Three words to describe this book: Entertaining, Historic, Revealing.
Pages: 448 Pages
Click here to buy Alex Ferguson: My Autobiography
By Addicted Tony Adams – Best Football Autobiographies (New edition)
One of the most truthful football autobiographies out there. Addicted is a remarkable book. Following one of Arsenal and England’s greatest captains, through his 17 year career. Witness life through Tony’s eyes, as he discusses prison and his fight with alcoholism. All whilst still player at the highest level.
Adams’ off the field battles, are what makes this book more interesting than the usual churned out dross. His lack of confidence and drinking problems are a recurring theme throughout the book. Pulling no punches, the majority of his stories are graphic and unpleasant. But highlight how he felt whilst in an intoxicated state. Highlighting the drinking culture of English players during the 80s. And how many of his teammates had ongoing battles with alcoholism. Adams’ honesty and vivid story telling allow the readers to understand the pain and torment clouding over his life.
The story of a footballing hero, plagued by an alcoholic nemesis, leading to his demise. Before showing the strength to recover from rock bottom and continue of the road to redemption.
Three words to describe this book: Candid, Graphic, Real!
Pages: 384 Pages
Click here to buy Addicted By Tony Adams – football autobiography (New edition)
Ghostwritten by award winning journalist Paul Kimmage. This brilliantly composed account of Tony Cascarino’s life is a compelling read. Told in first person, you get a real feel for the man himself. This is one of the most discussed football autobiography of all time.
Paul Kimmage’s writing style lends itself to this book. Keeping the reader in suspense as he unveils Tony’s deepest secrets. Disclosing not only his professional life, but personal life.
In particular a bombshell that generated a lot of unwanted press. This book feels more like a guilt lead outburst of confessions, then a life story.
The book explores Tony relationships with former managers. And insightful anecdotes on Glenn Hoddle and Jack Charlton.
Of the pitch the book mentions Tony’s love for poker and gambling. He often relays the “little voice” in his head that plagued his career, Filling him with self-doubt. This honest account addresses his regret over infidelities and leaving his family.
This book shows the personal and professional life of a troubled footballer.
Pages: 208 pages
Click here to buy Full Time: The Secret Life Of Tony Cascarino – football autobiography
This honest story, explores the life of Chelsea first black player. Paul received racist abuse and threats from his own fans. Before winning them over with his effort, speed and tricky. His story contains family tragedy, drug use, cancer battles, racism and a career ending injury. This moving book shows how life can change in the blink of an eye. From having the world at your feet, to spiralling into despair and depression.
Forced to retire from football at only 24, followed by the death of his baby. Paul turned to drugs for release. Leading to two bouts of cancer and a period where he was homeless. The book shows how Paul fights back and regains stability in his life. Using his own experiences to show his story to inspire the young.
A gripping read from start to finish, proving a positive mindset can overcome any challenge.
Pages: 400 pages
Click here to buy Black and Blue: How Racism, Drugs and Cancer Almost Destroyed Me – football autobiography
One third of the holy trinity of Law, Best and Charlton. Denis Law was one of Scotland’s best players. ‘The King’ is an autobiography which is more of a who’s who of football. Including anecdotes about Bill Shankly, Sir Matt Busby, Ferenc Puskás and Jimmy Greaves.
With a statue standing outside the Theatre of Dreams. This legend dubbed ‘The King’ was relentless in front of goal. Winning the FA Cup in 1963 and 1965 and 1967 for Manchester United. But missing out on lifting the European Cup due to injury.
“Denis was the best in the business, he could score goals from a hundredth of a chance never mind half of one”. George Best.
This book explores the rise of a young boy from Aberdeen to the highest level of football. Filled with humour and in depth behind-the-scenes stories. This is a great read for any football fan. Find out why his adoring fan crowned him ‘The King’. Entertaining throughout, find out about one Britain’s first players to play in Italy. And his time playing alongside the likes of Di Stefano and Yashin.
This book is 320 page of exciting revelations, from a former legend. At one time, Britain’s most expensive player. Law’s career is full of excited stories to keep the reader engaged from cover to cover.
Click here to buy The King – Denis Law – The Autobiography – football autobiography
Often described as the greatest British player of all time and the first ever Playboy footballer. George Best life was full of the highs on and off the field.
“Don’t coach him, he’s a genius.” Sir Matt Busby
His unbelievable talent brought with it an unusual amount of fame and success. But this gifted footballer was unable to cope with the stardom. ‘Blessed’ includes stories of alcohol and women, both in copious amounts. Which help Best to suppress the pressure.
George sets the record straight in ‘Blessed’, with an open mind and heart. This engaging read shares Best’s life stories with the reader, in his own words. With particular insight into the euphoria of the 1968 European Cup win. And the traumatic loss of his mother, plus his battles with alcoholism.
Written 3 years before his passing, Best opens up about his life regrets. Whilst reminiscing on his many triumphs.
Pages: 480 Pages
Click here to buy Blessed – The Autobiography
Glasgow Rangers FC’s most successful manager Bill Struth, was also know as ‘Mr Struth’. Winning over 30 majored trophies. He managed the team for 34 years, developing some of the club’s greatest players.
“To be a Ranger is to sense the sacred trust of upholding all that such a name means in this shrine of football.” Bill Struth
The book ‘Mr Struth’ explores Bill’s earlier years living in Fife and Edinburgh. Competing as a professional runner. Before starting his football journey at Hearts, then Clyde and Glasgow Rangers.
The book also shows the effect that Bill had on Rangers and how his spirit lives on in the club today.
Click here to buy Mr Struth: The Boss – football autobiography
Journeyman: One Man’s Odyssey through the Lower Leagues of English Football – Best Football Autobiographies
Ben Smith is one of the best footballers of all time…or could have been. A career that started out training with the like of Bergkamp and Ian Wright. Smith thought he had hit the big time. This book follows the story that lead to him spending his senior career in the lower leagues of football.
Aged 16 he was in the youth team at Arsenal FC. But, the following 17 years he spent at the likes of, Reading, Hereford, Weymouth, Crawley Town and Aldershot.
Journeyman footballer is a term that best describes Smith’s career. Discussing his contract negotiations, injuries and personal insecurities. Plus his perception of playing each week in front of crowd less than 500 people.
This humorous book gives a great insight into the not so glamorous side of a footballer’s career. Ben Smith’s memoirs are a great read for any lover of the game and future pro.
Pages: 384 Pages
Click here to buy Journeyman: One man’s odyssey through the lower leagues of English football – football autobiography
A different, but all too important type of football autobiography. Fever pitch is about a life in football from a fan’s perspective. In 1992 the book won the William Hill Sports book of the year and was later produced for cinema.
Portraying Arsenal fan Nick Hornby’s experiences of football from the terraces. Following the story of a fan born into football, and his memoirs as a fan in his thirties. Each chapter relates events in his personal life to specific football matches he attended.
This fun book shows the great lengths ‘obsessive’ fans go through to support their club.
Pages: 256 Pages
Click here to buy Fever Pitch – football autobiography
An integral part of the famous ‘Class of 92’, Gary Neville wore his heart on his sleeve from an early age. ‘Red’ is the story of an incredible 20 years period at Old Trafford. His story ‘Red’, is told in chronological order. Highlighting the ups and down of Gary’s career, playing for his boyhood team. Neville epitomises the United core beliefs. Never complacent, never knowing when you’re beaten and always working hard.
With 85 caps for England, a large section of the book covers his international career. Commenting of the various managers he played for. The lack of discipline under Sven’s leadership and the terrible man management skills of Glenn Hoddle.
Regularly referring to the other ‘Class of the 92’ stars ‘Giggsy’, ‘Scholesy’, ‘Becks’, ‘Butty’ and brother Phil. Who between them spearheaded United to countless titles. This one club man is the ultimate role model for any young player. Never blessed with technical skills. He made up for it with his work-rate and behaving as an absolute professional.
Pages: 416 Pages
Click here to buy Red: My Autobiography
A madman or magician? Love him or hate him sometimes Paolo Di Canio was unplayable. No matter what, you knew you were in for entertainment any time he stepped on the field. A favourite at every club he played for, especially West Ham United. Di Canio was famed for flashes of brilliance and perhaps even more so flashes of ill discipline.
This autobiography shows how his personal life was as unpredictable as his playing career. With many unexpected anecdotes, to go with his controversial political views. Discarding any pre concetions, this book gives an open and insightful view on Di Canio’s life and career, from the mind of the man himself.
Pages: 352 pages
Click here to buy Paolo Di Canio: The Autobiography
My Story’ explores the personal and professional life of the player known as ‘Stevie G’. A captain and leader from day one, the story of ‘local boy done gone’ is an inspirational read for any fan or player. From captaining his beloved Liverpool. To leading his country at a World Cup and European Championship.
My Story discusses Gerrard’s twenty-two year career. All the ups and downs from his incredible time at Anfield. The only player to have scored in the Champion’s League final, Fa Cup Final, UEFA Cup Final and League Cup Final. Playing 710 games for Liverpool, his loyalty is to club and country is unquestionable.
This book takes an in depth looked into his whole career. With a captain’s opinion on the famous 2005 Champions League Final comeback against AC Milan. And his thoughts on how his England career could have been so much different. Gerrard discusses previous managers, playing with Luis Suárez and his relationship with Jose Mourinho.
One of the greatest English players of all team. This book tells the extraordinary story of a loyal club man, who gave his all for the team. A perfect book that shows how dedication and leadership can triumph against the odds.
Pages: 496 pages
Click here to buy My Story – football autobiography
To say Neymar da Silva Santos Junior had a tough upbringing is an understatement. This young Brazilian was saved from the mean streets of Brazil by Santos FC. The making of this extra special player, could be in some part to due to the challenges faced by him and his family. This remarkable story shows how Neymar grew to be the darling of Brazil.
A heart warming autobiography, showing how from the depths of despair and diamond can appear. Read how sheer determination propelled Neymar from poverty to the world stage.
Pages: 150 Pages
Click here to buy Neymar: My Story – Conversations with my Father – football autobiography
Paul McGrath was an Irish international football player. Famed for playing for both Manchester United and Aston Villa. But, this book is more than just a chronological insight into his football career. This is a story of a young orphaned mixed raced boy in Dublin. Who has to overcome knock backs and racism to make it in the game of football. And the adverse effect these setbacks have on him in later life.
A world class centre-back throughout the 80’s and 90’s. McGrath was named in the team of the tournament at the 1990 World Cup Finals. He also won the PFA Footballer of the Year in 1994 and Villa’s player of the season four years in a row. Beneath the mountainous stature of a man, McGrath had many demons to contend with.
Paul discloses in vivid detail, how alcohol affected his adult life. Towards the end of his career, he relied on tranquilizers as a healthier option to alcohol. He also explained how the angst caused from his retirement lead to him drinking and bottle of bleach. Which could/should have killed him, but his internal organs had been unscathed. McGrath could play football at the highest level, whilst intoxicated. Even intervention from fellow players and management, could not deter him from the drink.
What makes this book different from other football autobiographies is Paul Mcgrath’s upbringing. Moved from orphanage to orphanage and living as an ethnic minority in the heart of Dublin. His feelings of abandonment and constant racism, leading to low self esteem and panic attacks.
This honest story keeps the reader gripped from start to finish.
Click here to buy Back from the Brink: The Autobiography
One third of the United Trinity, Charlton, Law and Best and an integral member of the Busby Babes. Charlton was a devoted United legend with 754 appearances for the club. The book also touches on Bobby’s experience of the Munich air disaster. In which he was one of the few survivors.
Charlton relays his memoirs of winning the European Cup, Fa cups and league titles. And the lows of competing in the FA Cup final of 1958 which took placed in the weeks after the air disaster.
This emotional yet heroic book, shines a spotlight on one of United’s and England’s greatest players.
Pages: 400 pages
Click here to buy My Manchester United Years – football autobiography
‘Stillness and Speed: My Story’ explores his transition into the English game. Joining a team with a host seasoned drinkers and changing the way they trained. Dennis introduced a revolutionary style of play and behaviour. Along with stars such as, Henry, Overmars, Pires and Vieira. Bergkamp’s style help Arsenal become a formidable team throughout Europe. Culminating in the invincible season of 03-04.
This book recalls Bergkamp’s memories of going unbeaten. Before discussing his own ideas and philosophies within football. Learning from Dutch masters such as johan Cruyff. His footballing apprenticeship was etched in the “Total Football” trademark.
Since retiring from playing Dennis has worked with Ajax in a senior role. Creating a football philosophy to change how the game is played. This book is one of our favourites, to find out about this classy footballer, or to understand his vision for the game.
Click here to buy Stillness and Speed: My Story – football autobiography
Ronald Reng a close friend of Enke’s, pieces together the factors which lead to his death. Assessing what caused the former Barcelona and Benfica goalkeeper to jump in front of a train. At just thirty-two years of age Enke appeared to have it all. But underneath his playful visaed a storm of the mind was forming.
A sincere account of his life, from triumph to tragedy. Reng sheds a spotlight on the demons that face top levels sports personalities.
Pages: 400 pages
Click here to buy A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke – football autobiography
Football is a game that transcends generations, cultures, language and race. Refereed to as ‘The Beautiful game’, it’s the world’s most watched and participated sport. A common debate among football fans, circles around who is the greatest player of all time. With so many contenders who have lit up the world stage, the choice is tough. However, the majority always lean towards Edson Arantes do Nascimento, otherwise known as Pelé.
Pelé is a true football legend and a sports man on and off the field. Since his retirement his role has development into an ambassador of the Brazilian game. Using his fame, influence and football to better people’s lives. In ‘Why Soccer Matters’ Pelé relays his memoirs and experiences for the first time.
A role model to Brazilians and footballers everywhere, this man is a football icon. Pelé scored over 1,283 goals throughout his career, leading Brazil to 3 World Cup titles. This book highlights how the World Cup returning to Brazil can force change on a global scale. As an ambassador of his home country’s World Cup, Pelé travelled the world. Highlighting the effect football has on hard to reach families and trouble areas.
Pelé shares his stories and experiences, which is an eye opener for all football fans. Seeing the game through the perspective of the greatest ever player.
Pages: 304 pages
Click here to buy Why Soccer Matters – football futobiography
The late, great Brian Clough is often revered as one of Britain’s best football managers. His book ‘Cloughie: Walking On Water’ is the life story in this incredible man. Starting with his brilliant playing career at Middlesbrough and Sunderland. Then moving into his phenomenal management career with Derby County and Nottingham Forest.
He discusses the philosophy of Arsene Wenger, comparing it to the to the great Leeds United teams of the 70s. Suggesting that Arsene’s trademark passing football, is how football should be played. Cloughie also discusses frustrations with international football, both as a player and a manager. And his anger at being overlooked throughout his football life.
Clough’s opinions on what makes a good football manager are most insightful. Incredible useful for any wannabe football coach of manager.
For an astute look into the philosophy of this great manager. And how he led two mediocre teams to the heights of European football. This book has all the answers.
Click here to buy Cloughie: Walking on Water – football autobiography
Guillem Balague’s book ‘Messi’, delves into the life and genius of the five time FIFA BALLON D’OR winner, Lionel Messi.
Born and raised in Rosario Argentina, Messi broke into the Barcelona first team at age of 17 years. Playing a few games in his first season, his career took off in the 06/07 season as he became a first team regular. Then in 08/09 finished the season on 38 goals in all competition.
He surpassed this achievement in 09/10 with 47 goals, and again in 10/11 with 53 goals. Under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, Messi (aged 25) became Barcelona’s all time top goalscorer.
Addicted gives the astonishing insight into what make this player great. Often touted as the greatest player of all time. This book will open your eyes to the commitment needed to make it to the top.
Pages: 320 pages
Click here to buy Messi – football autobiography
An inspiration football book with a difference. Leading is written by Sir Alex Ferguson and friend Sir Michael Moritz. Assessing the important decision Fergie had to overcome throughout his 38 years in management.
The strategies discussed in leading are not just relevant to football. The core lessons can be used in life and business to create success in all areas. Sir Alex sheds light into how he managed the boardroom, his ways of dealing with adversity and failure and his process for hiring and firing staff and players.
This book gives a direct look into the management style of arguable the greatest football manager of all time. No matter what stage you are in your career, there is a lot to take away from reading this book.
Click here to buy Leading – football autobiography
Luis Suárez is one of the best forwards in the world. Born in the rural areas of Salto, Uruguay. He and his family moved to the capital Montevideo, and this is when his football journey began. His raw talent, skill and agility attracted on of Uruguay’s biggest club teams, Nacional.
An excellent first season in senior football, lead him to Europe. Starring for both Groningen and then Ajax. His heroics in Holland, caught the eye of Liverpool FC legend Kenny Dalglish. Who moved him to the Merseyside club. After 3 blistering season and spearheading Liverpool to their highest finish in 24 years. The bright lights of Barcelona were too tempting to turn down.
But, Suárez’s sensational career on the pitch has not been short of controversy. With numerous incidents involving biting players and the racist comments made towards Patrice Evra. Resulting in many long term suspension and fines for a player who at points has been unstoppable.
His move to Barcelona made him one of the highest transfers in football. Throughout the book, Suárez discusses his career to date. With an insight into his childhood. Growing up on the street of Argentina and now playing on the world stage. ‘Crossing the line’ gives an unrelenting look into the reasons Suarez never gives up and perhaps why he sometimes oversteps the mark.
Page: 288 pages
Click here to buy Luis Suarez: Crossing the Line – My Story – football autobiography
We would love hear your opinions on your favourite Football Autobiographies. Have you read any of these Football Autobiographies, did you enjoy them, tell us what you thought?
Also if you have read any Football Autobiographies recently that other football enthusiasts would like, please write the name in the comments below.