Book review: The sad the bad and the crass

MY 1998 WORLD CUP STORY. Glenn Hoddle
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The Independent Online
Walter Winterbottom did not write a book about any of his four World Cups as manager of the England football team and Sir Alf Ramsey clearly felt no great compulsion to publish his diary for 1966. Ron Greenwood waited until after retirement before putting together one of the sport's few unreservedly commendable autobiographies, so not until Bobby Robson in 1986 did a manager of the national team risk going into print while still doing the job.

From memory, Robson's World Cup Diary 1982-86 did not make any great waves, partly because football was less in vogue, but also because, even by 1986, there was a sufficiently large media posse shadowing every move inside the England camp to ensure that most things worth recording (and plenty that were not) were fully exposed at the time.

Twelve years on, the posse has swollen to 100 or more, news conferences are broadcast live and most of Glenn Hoddle's "honest journal ... of why I did what I did" (My 1998 World Cup Story, by Glenn Hoddle. Andre Deutsch, pounds 17.99) is all too familiar. Day after day he sat in front of the microphones and cameras and was asked precisely why he had done what he did.

So revelations granted to the Sun, for its reputed pounds 200,000 serialisation, or to book-buyers for their pounds 17.99, are distinctly limited and have been understandably resented. "Drunk Gazza Trashed My Room" - even if the said trashing was hardly in the Led Zeppelin class - was not new news, for Gascoigne himself had already admitted it in the same newspaper.

On the other hand, Hoddle's determination never to pick Chris Sutton again; his explanation of why the friendly in Caen was played behind closed doors; and of why Dion Dublin is not just another John Fashanu, could all usefully have been aired at the time. Instead he has waited until now to further upset Sutton's manager Roy Hodgson, has a prolonged dig at Alex Ferguson - another club manager he cannot afford to alienate - and confirms many in their worst prejudices about him by studying the Express horoscope page ("incredibly, 100 per cent spot on") and insisting that his biggest - indeed, only - mistake lay in not taking the faith-healer Eileen Drewery to France.

Sadly, and crassly, the Express horoscope is linked to the one hitherto undiscussed area of Hoddle's life, the break-up of his marriage. Before all the self-justification and regular swipes at the media begin, there is a genuinely poignant moment in the first chapter of the book as he returns home at six o'clock on Sunday morning after World Cup qualification in Rome, the conquering hero empty inside as he faces up to telling his wife and three young children that he is leaving them.

As Hoddle must now realise, this book was an ill-advised venture. It was a pity that his ghost-writer, David Davies, the FA's director of public affairs, did not consider more carefully the effect of making these affairs public; or that a trusted aide like Ray Clemence, well versed in media affairs, did not talk him out of it. As for the perils of serialisation in the tabloids, Hoddle need have looked no further than another former Spurs colleague, Steve Perryman, who was once comprehensively stitched up in the same situation.

The idea for the book, Hoddle writes, was born in conversations with his agent, or "adviser". No surprise there. But who will advise the advisers? Somebody should have.