The Secret Player, by Anonymous
Sunday 18 August 2013
First the Secret Olympian, then the Secret Footballer, and now the Secret Player; Anonymous is a busy author these days. The promise of such books is to give us explosive insider's dope, but what emerges here instead is a rather bleak view of the "beautiful game".
To be sure, there are plenty of tales of boozing, birding, gambling and footballers' "pranks" – these last being almost universally unoriginal and unfunny, involving alcohol, excrement or the cutting-up of designer clothing. But there are few beans that haven't been spilled before, and no names are revealed.
More interest, whether by accident or design, lies in Mr Anonymous's exposure of the mindset of today's top footballers. Loyalty to club or country counts for little; money is all. Premier League players have little time for the FA Cup because the financial rewards are paltry compared with their earnings from League or European competition.
You might think that they crave trophies, but according to the author most agree with the manager who told him: "Every payslip is a trophy". He details a scam whereby players feign injury towards the end of a game to allow their mates on the subs' bench to earn appearance money, which at his club is £6,000 the minute you step on to the pitch. As for international honours, he claims it is common for players to declare themselves unfit for duty in order not to risk getting crocked and thereby prejudicing their club earnings.
Does the big money make them happy? Rarely, says the author. In his case he has suffered from depression, but taken great pains to conceal it from his club, instead seeking treatment privately, for fear they might think it would affect his form and jettison him.
So who is this jaundiced Secret Player? Unless he is deliberately misleading us, he offers plenty of clues: he has played at senior level for England, and in all four League divisions; he is big, white and operates in a central role; and he is not from London or Manchester, but is probably a northerner, if the use of words such as "mither" is anything to go by. Whoever he is, you worry for him. And his Premier League colleagues.
Published in trade paperback by Headline, £13.99
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling