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Taking Le Tiss - Matt Le Tissier

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Author: Matt Le Tissier / 352 pages / Publisher: HarperSport / Released: 20 Aug 2009

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      10.09.2012 16:09
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      Good read for Saints fans

      "I remember when he said he didn't want to play in a cup game but I insisted. I told him if he scored two goals he could come off. He duly scored two goals in the first 19 minutes and asked to come off".

      (Dave Jones, Southampton manager)

      All writers, high to lowbrow, deep down don't really know how good they are and the amount of readers of their books and articles isn't enough to really validate their conscious. You don't have that problem with football books. If they are not cliché and blue-collar they are lucky to get printed, as is the case here. It's like reading Shoot Magazine! 'Taking the LeTiss' indeed.

      Mathew LeTissier was one of the most gifted British players off all-time, but also unrewarded for his talent, all because of a thing called loyalty, staying at Southampton all his career somehow deemed detrimental to his right to play for England and certainly to win domestic trophies, the ZDS Cup Final his only medal. Southampton were exciting to watch because of him but that freedom on the ball meant they were just as likely to win 6-3 over United then lose 7-1 to Everton the next week, as they did indeed do. He got a risible eight caps for England and I would have thought loyalty to one team is exactly the quality you need to play for your national team. Carlton Palmer has 18 England caps for Christ sake!


      "Carlton Palmer could trap a ball further than I could kick it!"
      .... (Matt Le Tissier)...


      Born in Guernsey - hence the name Le Tissier - he raced through the junior levels and soon outgrew his islands talent, perhaps why he was so good and confident at such a young age, orchestrating many a game on the island against much older players in a hardly challenging league by planting his foot on the ball. But as much as he loved being a big fish in a small pond the pull of the mainland saw him end up at the nearest professional club to St Hellier by the name of Southampton Town. He did have a trail at Oxford in the mid 1980s but nothing came of it, signing in 1987 for The Saints, where he claimed to have had a rabid fruit machine addiction that would gobble up his YTS wages, a gambling habit that rears its ugly head later in the book.

      Mat idolized Glen Hoddle as a kid and a name that features heavily in the book after they fell out as their paths continuously crossed in later years. By the 1994-95 season the big nosed winger was a sensation, scoring 30 goals in that season, unheard of for an attacking midfielder. He was the first midfielder to score 100 goals in the Premier League and only the eighth to do it in the English game. He also scored an amazing 47 out of 48 penalties in his career, still a British record. He unforgettably scored the final goal at The Dell before it was knocked down, a screamer too, which turned out to be his last goal for Southampton as he retired the following year. He remains the second highest goal scorer at the club with 162 league goals behind Mick Shannon with 185.

      "His talent was out of the norm. He could simply dribble past seven or eight players but without speed - he just walked past them. For me he was sensational".
      (Xavi, Barcelona)

      Through his time with Southampton he saw off at least eight managers and has plenty of stories about them, mostly booze and rant related. He also tucks into the various chairmen, especially Rupert Lowe, and anecdotes a plenty about players and matches. Clearly the first draught of the book was a little too much about Mathew's football achievements and those drinking episodes which quickly got boring so the ghost writer wanted a little bit of controversy to sell the book, hence the match fixing story, Mathew admitting to taking part in spot fixing, where you or friends bet on a certain action happening on the field of play at a certain time. In Le Tissiers case it was kicking the ball out in the first minute, the chosen spread 60-70 seconds, anything under that paying off very nicely, but over that and they have to pay the bookie that rate per second. In the end he messed it up and it took 70 seconds to get it off and so his consortium broke even. He claims to have done it only once but you very much doubt that if he messed it up. Thankgawd he was not Pakistani.


      "If I ever get four numbers on the lottery I will buy Portsmouth"


      He also goes over the well known football tales connected with Southampton, like that of Ali Dia, George Whea's 'alleged' cousin, who blagged his way onto the pitch for Graeme Souness Southampton to last just 10 minutes, and the rather odd appointment of rugby man Sir Clive Woodard at Southampton as some sort of coach. He all but accuses of pompous Rupert Lowe of taking bungs for the signing of aloof South Americans Delgado and Chisla for a combined 3.75 million and plenty to say on the various nefarious takeovers that nearly bust the club.
      Bruce Grobblar was briefly at the club just after he allegedly took money - 60 grand - to throw games and so that's discussed but again frivolously treated by LeTissier, more then the suggestion that spot and match fixing was wide spread back then.

      But, ultimately, the guy is a harmless football cliché and so is the book, no where near having the finesse and touch of his game. At least he didn't buy a pub. It's in a chronological order of sorts but at over 350 pages it's a long haul. All the chapters feel the same and read in a rather laddish way. One or two bits are revelatory and Southampton fans and football aficionados can fill in some gaps here to go with scraps from other books. The tabloid narrative on football stories tends to be somewhat vague and two-dimensional so these books always add some light and brevity to what really went on. What they don't do is add any intellect to the beautiful game.

      - Stats -

      8 England caps
      10 hatricks
      209 goals
      540 games

      (Matt Le Tissier at his testimonial)


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