Wednesday 11 December 2019

Rio's book is just the latest two-footed challenge in the football autobiography

Ashley Cole poses for photographs as he is unveiled at his new club AS Roma. Photo: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images
Ashley Cole poses for photographs as he is unveiled at his new club AS Roma. Photo: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson
Republic of Ireland v Sweden - 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Group C...6 September 2013; Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden, in action against Richard Dunne, Richard Dunne. 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier, Group C, Republic of Ireland v Sweden, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE...ABC
Roy Keane in action as Ireland coach

Garreth Murphy

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is coming under fire for his decision to write a tell-all book about his football career, #2 sides.

The defender, who spent 12 years at Manchester United, has lifted the lid on life under Alex Ferguson, his teammates and life at Old Trafford.

However, his comments about the short-lived David Moyes era have left him open to the most criticism. While Ferdinand's slating of Moyes may be unnecessary, he's not the first footballer to stick the boot in with his autobiography. Here's some of the other players who settled a few scores in their books

Ashley Cole – My Defence

In 2006, just after he signed for Chelsea in one of the more acrimonious transfers in Premiership history, Ashley Cole released his autobiography, My Defence. He was reportedly paid £250,000 for the ghostwritten effort. In a book full of appalling episodes, one in particular stood out  - Cole’s response to his agent to being told Arsenal were planning to pay him not £60,000 a week but a mere £55,000.
"He [Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein] is taking the piss, Jonathan!", Cole wrote, before revealing that he almost crashed his - presumably gold-plated car - in shock. "I was trembling with anger. I couldn't believe what I'd heard." My Defence sold only 4,000 copies in its opening weeks.

Jaap Stam Head to Head

Few autobiographies can actually lead to a player leaving a club but Jaap Stam managed with it his effort, Head to Head. In the book, Stam claimed United had taped him up while he was still at PSV Eindhoven, approaching him without the express permission of the club. On Ferguson he wrote: "He strode into the room, full of confidence and smiling broadly. Jaap, I want you to play for Manchester United,' he said. `I want you to command our back line and help us to win the Champions League'." Stam also said that Ferguson encouraged his side to dive in an attempt to earn penalties when playing in Europe.
Fergie shuffled Stam out the door quick smart, although he later admitted that he’d made a mistake.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic  ‘I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic’

Ah Zlatan, where to begin? Not content with describing himself as “superf**king awesome” in the opening pages, Zlatan also lays into his fellow players and managers in his tremendously ego-filled book, I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He laid into Pepe Guardiola – the man who brought him to Barcelona in 2009 for a single season. “If Mourinho lights up a room, Guardiola draws the curtains.”

Even his missus was not immune to Zlatan. “What did she get for an engagement present? “Whaddaya mean, present? She got Zlatan.”

Norway international John Carew gets it, too: "What John Carew does with a football, I can do with an orange.”

Alex Ferguson

Fergie didn’t just stick the boot in with his autobiography – he went in over the top with studs showing, about 10 minutes after the ball had been played. He settled so many scores in it, it's a small wonder the man isn't now known as The Equalizer. Most memorably, he had a pop at Roy Keane.

Dedicating an entire chapter to Keane, he wrote that his former skipper was unable to accept that his body was failing him towards the end of his United career: “He thought he was Peter Pan. Nobody is.” He wrote that “the hardest part of Roy’s body is his tongue.”

On his ultimate falling out with Keane over the infamous MUTV interview when the Republic of Ireland international had a go at the United squad, he wrote: “Jesus. He was unbelievable. He slaughtered everyone. I couldn't lose control of players if I wanted to remain at United. The manager is the most important person at United.''

Keane is expected to have his own say in his new book, The Second Half, which is co-written by Roddy Doyle, and is released next month.

Roy Keane

No article on footballers’ troublesome tomes would be complete without a mention of Keano’s effort. Ghostwritten by Eamon Dunphy, the extraordinary book managed to not only offend many at Manchester United but also earned him a five game ban from the FA. In the book, Keane seemed to admit  he went out to hurt fellow professional, Leeds player  Alf Inge Haaland in a match. “I’d waited long enough. I f****** hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***. And don't ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.”

Keane later claimed that Dunphy misquoted in the autobiography but he still got slapped with the ban and £150k fine for his troubles.

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