BOOK REVIEW: A Footballer’s Life by Clarke Carlisle (Publisher: Simon & Schuster 2013)

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Life doesn’t always give you what you want, but you will find true happiness when you appreciate having what you need (Clarke Carlisle, 2013)

Often dubbed the brainiest footballer in the UK after consecutive victories on Channel 4’s Countdown, former footballer and PFA Chairman, Clarke Carlisle, bares all in his autobiography, A Footballer’s Life.

While touching on promotion to the Premier League with Owen Coyle’s successful Burnley side in 2009, the book focuses on Carlisle’s final season, in lower league football with Northampton Town before his retirement from the game in 2013. On the brink of promotion to League One, for Preston born Carlisle, Captain of Northampton FC, the Iron Man superhero like ending fails to live up to expectations with his side disappointingly losing the Wembley Final to Bradford.

Carlisle’s use of language in the book, though becoming of a footballer, is at times rather crude and limited though ironically he confesses to his love of adding a new word to his vocabulary each month. Also, tales of grown men wrestling naked in hotel corridors after competing in last man standing drink outs serve to undermine the perception of a man dubbed as one of the brainiest.

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Countdown Champion

Beyond the antics you do sympathise with Carlisle’s candidness on his battles with alcohol, gambling and depression which partly led to his demise as a footballer and subsequent retirement from the game at the age of 33 which these days is rather young for a centre back. But for the love of his wife, Gemma, and their children, he could have lost it all. Equally, Carlisle speaks admirably of his managers, Ian Holloway and particularly Aidy Boothroyd, who got him the necessary counselling and medical assistance needed to combat his alcohol dependency and mental health battles.

You sense that with his involvement in media and particularly with the filming of his documentaries, Is Football Racist and Depression and Suicide in Sport, that Carlisle is winning his life back as he makes audiences more aware of the occasional pitfalls and negativity to befall those involved in the beautiful game.

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Media Man

For all his flaws, Carlisle is a man you want to see win. He falls down but gets right back up again and as he comes to realise that success is not just measured by what is achieved on the pitch but also off it, the reader begins to respect him a whole lot more as he conveys a sense of maturity and responsibility in prioritising his needs over his personal desires which are the hallmarks of a truly great man.

© Copyright 2014, Darell J Philip

(Images: Daily Mail)

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