Footballers' favourite writers? George Best, Paul Scholes... and Henry Kissinger

Players getting involved in scheme to encourage children to read

Sporting biographies are an obvious inspiration for footballers wanting to emulate their heroes’ success. Perhaps less expected, though, is one journeyman player’s attraction to a 624-page tome on foreign relations by the United States’ most divisive Secretary of State.

Although even Henry Kissinger’s diplomatic skills will not help Queens Park Rangers escape relegation from the Premier League, the London side’s former player Ryan Nelsen has selected the politician’s heavyweight work On China as his favourite adult book.

The choice is among the more surprising choices in a scheme using Premier League footballers to encourage children to read more. Every top division side picked a player to select his favourite book from both childhood and adult years.

For Nelsen, a New Zealand defender who left QPR shortly after the survey to become manager of Toronto FC in Canada, the choice may not be quite so surprising – he holds a degree in political science from Stanford University.

Nelsen was not the only player to throw in an unconventional choice, however – Wigan Athletic midfielder David Jones, currently on loan to Blackburn, opted for Adrian Galsworthy’s  history book The Complete Roman Army.

He may have been aping the all-conquering Australian cricket team, who were urged to read Sun Tzu’s Art of War by their coach John Buchanan before the Ashes series in 2001 to use ancient war tactics for a sporting advantage.

Most of the other players chose books by or about sports stars, presumably in the hope that some inspiration rubbed off. Norwich City’s Jonathan Howson has chosen Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer, Chelsea’s Ross Turnbull went for Rafael Nadal’s autobiography Rafa: My Story and Sunderland’s Adam Johnson picked Blessed by George Best.

When it comes to children’s books, there is no doubt that Roald Dahl is the footballers’ favourite author with seven of the 20 opting for his books.

The scheme has already been a phenomenal success in improving children’s reading standards, according to research published by the National Literacy Trust. It shows that 75 per cent of the pupils taking part improved their reading age by between six months and a year in just 10 weeks. Three out of four said they now read more because they know that footballers read – and half had joined their public library.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Clint Dempsey – who chose The Hobbit as his favourite adult book and Little Blue Truck by Alice Shertle as his top children’s book – said: “I encourage everybody to read as much as possible because knowledge is power and makes you a more rounded person.

“Not every story will interest you but when you find one that does it can be really fun to get wrapped up in the story.”

Pick of the bunch: footballers’ favourite reads

Per Mertesacker (Arsenal): A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng

Sylvain Distin (Everton) The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

Gael Bigirimana (Newcastle United) Hinds’ Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard

Ryan Nelsen (ex-QPR) On China by Henry Kissinger

David Jones (Blackburn Rovers) The Complete Roman Army by Adrian Goldsworthy

 

 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Administration Assistant / Apprenticeship Industry

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity for an e...

Recruitment Genius: NVQ Assessor

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Private Training Provider off...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders