Newest Review: ... For example him standing in a bush and getting a fork through foot. It explain in excellent detail about how he came to play for Liverpool ... more
A great insight from one of the most iconic footballers of the current generation
Gerrard: My Autobiography - Steven Gerrard
Member Name: CrazyJamie
Gerrard: My Autobiography - Steven Gerrard
Advantages: Great range of topics dealt with honestly and professionally
Disadvantages: Probably premature, to the point where a second autobiography is likely at some point
Those are the statistics for the Steven Gerrard on the pitch. Off the pitch he is known very much as a private individual who largely keeps himself and his family out of the limelight for non football related reasons. His autobiography, released when he was 26, was therefore much anticipated. It was well received by fans and critics, and won the Galaxy British Book Awards Sports Book Of The Year in 2007.
Personally (as may or may not be obvious from the information provided so far) I was born and bred as a Liverpool fan. I have a season ticket, and travel to watch the team in a decent number of away matches (including European matches on occasion). As such I'm surprised it has taken me this long to pick up a copy of Steven Gerrard's autobiography. But was it worth the wait?
WHAT IT COVERS
As previously stated, Steven Gerrard released this book at the age of 26, which for footballers is only really middle age. Most professional footballers don't retire until their early thirties, and indeed the likes of Ryan Giggs (who is an iconic footballer in his own right, and still playing first team football for Manchester United at the age of 35) have shown that it is possible to go on longer than that at the highest level. Personally I felt that at the time of releasing this book Steven Gerrard had at least another five or six years left at the very top level of club football. As such, it was something of a disappoint that he released this book only two thirds of the way through what is, up to now, a glittering career. You can't help but feel at the end of this book (especially if you've read it recently) that a second book is likely at some point down the line.
In terms of content, as expected the book covers his early life and football career, starting when he was aged nine. It progresses in a logical fashion, with later chapters generally alternating between Liverpool and England events, all the up to the end of the 2006-07 season, which is when Liverpool reached the final of the Champions League, but lost to AC Milan. So within the book you get his take on classic Liverpool moments such as the Treble in 2001 and winning the Champions League in 2005, as well as similar moments for England such as the 5-1 thrashing of Germany in 2001.
In addition to the obvious topics, Steven Gerrard also writes quite frankly about other not so obvious topics, such as a career threatening injury that he suffered at the age of nine, tackling his discipline problems on the pitch, and his parents splitting up. These topics will take the reader by surprise as few will have been aware of them from general media coverage or otherwise, and help to pad out the book in terms of content. As such, despite the premature release of the book, I didn't feel in any way cheated out of content here. He certainly crams plenty in.
It is so often the case when reading an autobiography that you just think "s/he didn't really write this". The case in point is when a celebrity who is clearly not an academic produces an autobiography with flowing language and a superb vocabulary range. To be honest I did wonder whether or not this would be the case with Steven Gerrard, and the answer is that it very much isn't. One thing that certainly does stand out in this book is that there is no doubt that Steven Gerrard has written this. Granted it has probably had a spell checker go through it and been proof read to within an inch of its life, but the words on the page are clearly Steven Gerrard's and no one else's.
But is this a good thing or a bad thing? The short answer is both. On the one hand it is fantastic to read about Gerrard's life in his own words. You always feel that you're getting the genuine truth, not only in the words but the style, and this does add to the impact of the book. On the other hand this is not, nor does it ever pretend to be, a literary masterpiece. Steven Gerrard is not a writer, and at no point is he going to win the Booker Prize.
As such seasoned readers may well be put off by the style of this book. It is not particularly welcoming, and you almost need to skim the words rather than trying to take them all in as individual sentences. Certainly if you try to read the book intricately it will become a struggle, because in all honesty it just doesn't flow that well from sentence to sentence. Then again this is something that should be expected and persevered with. If you want a literary masterpiece, don't buy the autobiography of a professional footballer.
Personally this book stood out for me for a number of reasons. The first is the stark contrast between the private nature of Steven Gerrard from day to day, and how revealing he is in this book. It would have been so easy for a footballer with this career up to this point to concentrate on the professional highs and lows, and not delve too much into the personal side of things. Indeed, taking this route must have been tempting for someone who works hard to keep himself out of the media limelight.
But this is not the approach that Gerrard takes. As well as covering the most well known professional moments of his career, he also covers personal issues that he quite frankly didn't need to cover at all. If he hadn't, I don't think the reader would have known any different. This approach is actually one that adds depth to the book. As he goes through he talks about the impact of his family, his upbringing, his attitude and his outlook on a personal level, bringing in deeply personal issues such as his parents breaking up as he does so. Autobiographies are usually about gleaming information about your chosen celebrity, but as I read this book I actually felt connected to Gerrard, which meant that even when reading about topics that I know about so well, I felt like I was looking at them from a completely new perspective. This is one of the strengths of the book and a credit to the way that Gerrard has chosen to approach this. In revealing more personal information that he strictly had to he makes the book a lot deeper, and a much more satisfying read. At the same time, I never felt that the information revealed wasn't relevant, which shows good balance and judgment in terms of the content that is included.
The other thing that stood out for me is how honest yet professional he managed to be throughout when dealing with other high profile players and managers. There are plenty of ex professionals out there who have stirred up a lot of controversy in their autobiographies by being unnecessarily brutal, to the point where you feel like they are stirring things up for the sake of it.
Gerrard doesn't do this, and in my opinion he strikes the balance between honesty and professionalism perfectly. He deals with a lot of players and managers in this book (so much so that he has an index of names in the back and where he has referred to them), and deals with them honestly. Predictably there are people that he either didn't get on with, or didn't approve of, and he describes these players and expresses his opinions without ever over stepping the mark. There are times throughout the book when he described heated arguments between himself and other big names in Liverpool's history, but also manages to maintain a level of respect.
He gives his views on current and ex players, managers, and even referees, and deals with them all in the same way. Personally I found it refreshing to read about his opinion of these people without ever feeling that he was trying to stir things up. I was surprised with his outlook on some people, and not at all surprised with others (he doesn't think Jeff Winter was a good referee, but then again I have never met anyone who thinks he was), but at all times I felt like I was getting an interesting and informed opinion from some with real inside knowledge of the modern game.
SHOULD YOU READ IT?
As stated above, I personally read this book because I am a huge Liverpool fan. And because of that, but also the overriding positives described above, I breezed through this in record time and loved ever second of it. I'll re read it at some point, too. As such, I would certainly recommend it to any Liverpool fan, but then again most of them wouldn't need my recommendation to pick it up.
So what about you non Liverpool fans who nonetheless like football on a broader scale and can tolerate reading the thoughts of a rival player? To be honest you're not going to like every part of the book. If you're a Manchester United fan, you may wish to just skip certain parts altogether. Because let's be honest, no amount of honest opinion is going to make you enjoy reading about Liverpool's fifth Champions League win in Istanbul. It just isn't.
But the book is still worth reading for the real football fans, because this book is genuinely interesting and not just blind propaganda for Liverpool fans to read about the glory moments all over again. Football fans of all allegiances will find his revelations and opinions about other players and staff, as well as his England experiences, interesting and surprising all in one go. The book is about learning more about an iconic footballer as much as it is learning about the game from his own experiences and opinions. And because of that it is a great read for anyone who simply holds a love for football. And to each and everyone one of those people, I would highly recommend it.
Summary: A fantastic read for both Liverpool fans, and other football fans looking for something different
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