As summer rolls in, you will find loads of guides for the best books to read over the coming months. There is something incredibly relaxing about reading a thriller by the pool, the beach or wherever it is you get to relax this summer. What’s the best type of summer book? Most people think of easy reading – you don’t tackle Dostoyevsky or Marcel Proust when lounging on a sunbed. Sports books can be a particularly easy read as they are usually anecdotal in form.
Of course, there are a lot of sports books, particularly from Premier League stars looking to flog an autobiography. Some are, frankly, terrible, although most will have some appeal from fans of the clubs the players played for down the years. But there are some great autobiographies from Premier League players, and we want to pick 10 of the best out for your consideration.
- Addicted – Tony Adams (with Tom Riddely)
We pulled this one from MansionBet’s list of the top 100 sports books of all-time, which is a great article for ideas for the next time you are looking for a good sports book to read. Addicted is considered one of the first warts-and-all autobiographies from a top footballer that showed a different side of life than the glamour sometimes portrayed in the media. Former Arsenal captain Adams is frank about his addictions, and it’s an inspiring read for anyone with the possible exception of Tottenham Hotspur fans.
- Anything Is Possible – Gareth Southgate
With the tagline, “Be Brave, Be Kind & Follow Your Dreams”, Southgate’s book is almost like a self-help book detailing how being nice, as well as dedicated, can get you to the top. There’s a lot of interest in Southgate right now after his success with England at Euro 2020, but the book shows how he got to this point. An interesting read for anyone interested in learning about leadership.
- Even Heskey Scored – Emile Heskey
A hidden gem of a book. Heskey deals with a lot of subjects in his tale of life as a Premier League and England footballer – he even lets us know about what he thinks about Brexit. Racism, too, is talked about, and Heskey’s assessment through his own experience will make you think again about dismissing the problems players are suffering from with racist social media trolls today.
- The Second Half – Roy Keane
MansionBet picked Roy Keane’s first autobiography (with Eamon Dunphy) for its top 100 list, but we wonder why The Second Half did not make the list? It is ghostwritten by the legendary Irish novelist Roddy Doyle, and the Man Booker-winning scribe’s idiosyncratic sense of humour is all over the pages. In truth, either is a fine read and offer an insight into the enigmatic former Manchester United captain.
- Rise of the Underdog – Danny Higginbotham
Sometimes you get the impression footballers are trying to settle scores in modern autobiographies, or perhaps trying to be controversial for the sake of it. That’s not the case here, as Higginbotham offers an insight into the highs and lows of being a decent, but not great, footballer. As a study of the day-to-day life of the game, it’s pretty much perfect.
- Commitment – Didier Drogba
Most of us think of Drogba as the brilliant and uncompromising Chelsea hero. However, the Ivorian is much more than a footballer, particularly in his home country. There is plenty about football in this riveting book, sure, and Drogba had an amazing career. But the intriguing stuff is Drogba’s ‘commitment’ to charity and building peace in his own country. In 2020, Drogba won the prestigious UEFA President’s Award for his work on and off the pitch – this book shows you why he was so deserving of it.
- Stillness and Speed – Dennis Bergkamp
Like his Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, Dennis Bergkamp is seen as something of a football philosopher. The Dutchman details his brilliant career here, but there is also a vision set out of what Bergkamp believes football should be in the future. An intriguing read for those that believe football is more than a game.
- How to be a Footballer – Peter Crouch
We mentioned that summer books should be light reading, and that’s what you get with the affable Peter Crouch – fun anecdotes and tales from a footballer that doesn’t take himself too seriously. Read it on the beach, the plane, the train – and then buy the sequel, I, Robot.
- I am the Secret Footballer – Anonymous
It could be Dave Kitson, Nicky Shorey or someone else. But while it’s fun to guess the identity of The Secret Footballer, his anonymity allows him to present some of the frankest opinions of the modern game. This book deals with the excesses of football, and the mini-triumphs and the failures.
- Full Time – Tony Cascarino/Paul Kimmage
Okay. This is not technically an autobiography – although all footballer’s books are ghostwritten. But we felt we had to include this book as it is arguably the benchmark for the best ‘lifting the lid’ genre of football books that became fashionable in the 21st century. A brilliant read that’s as far away from the book-as-PR-exercise you can get.