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Back from the Brink: The Autobiography [Hardcover]

Paul McGrath
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
RRP: 18.99
Price: 17.08 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 Oct 2006
Paul McGrath is Ireland's best loved sportsman and also its least understood. An iconic football presence during a professional career stretching over 14 years, he played for his country in the European Championship finals of 1988 and the World Cup finals of 1990 and 1994. But, behind the implied glamour of life in the employ of great English clubs like Manchester United and Aston Villa, McGrath wrestled with a range of destructive emotions that made his success in the game little short of miraculous. That story has until now never been told. It is a story that runs from a hard, hidden childhood spent in Dublin's orphanages all the way to the pain of two marriage break-ups and the struggle to cope with life after football. Quite apart from his all too public struggle with alcoholism, the story runs through the surreal highs and calamitous lows of a life lived habitually on the edge of chaos. It is not just a football story. It is an extraordinary human story that is certain to surprise with its candour. Here, for the first time, read about the father he never met; the mother whose love never died; the routine loneliness and ritual bullying endured by a black kid growing up behind closed doors in 1960s Dublin; the emotional breakdown suffered on leaving that institution; the recovery that - remarkably - brought him all the way to Old Trafford; the rollercoaster ride that followed. Here, the guilt, fear, self-loathing are all laid bare in a story fired with hope and determination for the future. It may well be the most candid sports book ever written.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Century; First Edition edition (5 Oct 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846050766
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846050763
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.4 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 254,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"As survivor's tales go, this is brutalist epic...McGrath's narrative has a stark honesty." (Sean O'Hagan The Observer Sport Monthly)

"Continuing the trend of brutal honesty which was popularised by Paul Gascoigne's autobiography, McGrath's book is difficult to read for anyone with an ounce of human kindness, especially those who marvelled at his ability from the Old Trafford terraces... Beautifully written." (Manchester Evening News)

"Laceratingly honest...remarkably unflinching" (Mail on Sunday)

"A startling, harrowing read... far removed from the churn-em-out footballing autobiographies...This is an uncompromising tale, wonderfully told, about one of our most talented and disturbed sporting heroes." (Hugh Farrelly Irish Independent)

"Heartbreaking...poingnant" (Robert Philip Daily Telegraph) --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Book Description

The autobiography of the greatest defender of the 1980s and 90s --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not primarily a soccer story 26 May 2007
By Moz
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is a story about a man wrestling with addiction while being blessed with great athleticism. Being autobiographical, Paul is more scathing about his lapses than a biographer would be, while underplaying his iconic football image. At times it's gut-wrenchingly honest as his constant submissions to the booze prevent him fully realising his athletic potential. You don't have to be a Man U fan, Villan or Republic of Ireland fan to read this. Paul's roots and upbringing alone are rivetting and scary.

Me, I'm a music fan really, and this life has parralels with Phil Lynott's tragic rise to fame and seduction by drugs. I just hope it doesn't end prematurely in the way Phil's did. A mixed race Irish man growing up in Dublin with no knowledge of his father but driven by a calling to excel. The troubled romances and the shadow of oblivion cast over even the most triumphal moments.

Paul's football carreer was dogged by dodgy knees, alcoholism and an amazing lack of self belief or confidence. A genius awarded countless accolades and many caps who feels unworthy of sharing the stage with his contemporaries. I was shocked by the extent of his problems and the lengths his friends had successfully gone to to prevent the truth being more widely publicised. I look forward to someone making this into a film.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oooh Aaah! 24 Oct 2006
Format:Hardcover
Oooh Aaah Paul McGrath went the chants around Landsdowne Road, Old Trafford and Villa Park in the late '80s and early '90s when one of Ireland's truely outstanding sports personalities was at the peak of his career.

And what a brilliant career it was. Paul McGrath was a rock at the heart of United and Villa's defences and a collosus for Eire particularly in the 1990 and 1994 World Cups. And the amazing thing is that McGrath achieved all this whilst battling alcoholism and inner demons that would undoubtedly have destroyed a lesser man.

The book is a very candid account of McGrath's life, from his tough childhood in Dublin where he suffered because of his skin colour, to his rise to the summit of professional football where he often played whilst under the influence. The book gives an indication of what McGrath's mindset and mental state was like during these halcyon years, and includes some really interesting stories and insights into the some of the top personalities in English and Irish football at the time.

Legend is a word that is certainly used too lightly, but this is not the case with McGrath. He is a true legend and what's more he comes across as a very honest and likeable character. A great read.

Declan Mullan.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JUST ONE MORE IT WILL BE ALRIGHT 12 Oct 2006
Format:Hardcover
Writen in the same vain as Tony Adams book.

How on earth he was able to stand up let alone play is utterly amazing. Then to win PFA player awards and represent your country defies all logic and reason.

This is not just a football book, but a journey through his life and his constant struggle with the demon drink and drugs.

Great great book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy It Now. 30 Nov 2006
Format:Hardcover
I was only a wee nipper in the time leading upto Italia '90, when Paul McGrath was in his heyday, but of the few footballing memories I have of that age, watching the TV and hearing 'Ohh Ahh Paul McGrath, I say Ooh Aah Paul McGrath' billowing round Landsdowne is one. No one chooses to become an alcoholic or a depressant, its something which overcomes you. Despite these huge weights on him, the man fought on to become one of the finest footballers of his generation. The book is a candid look at the life behind the face, and would move even the most stone hearted of people. The man has sat down and told his story the way he wants it told, not by some third party wanting to put a good spin on it. The man never wants pity for his actions, just a fair hearing. Its a compelling read, worth every penny.

He always has been, and always will be, a legend in my eyes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book makes you feel sorry for the individual concerned, as well as wanting to pick them up and shake them from side to side. Brutally honest, yet so frustrating in the sense that everyone is helpless to prevent the slide in to oblivion, even the central character, and that is what all addiction is about. The eventual lack of control over one's own body and the fact the demon inside the head takes over and all rationalisation flies out of the window just as quick as the bottle gets emptied.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once a Red, Always a Red 4 July 2010
By Darcy
Format:Hardcover
They say that a child's personality is formed in its first five years... whether you end up rich, poor, shy, or confident. These are traits that are firmly engraved into our subconscious from an early age and that is the reason a wise man once said that your parents are your real lottery in life.

A beautifully written autobiography of a player who would easily put on the red jersey of Manchester United's all time greatest players, including the likes of Charlton, Robson, Best, Ronaldo, Giggs, and Cantona. Yet, he was dealt a cruel hand so early in life by his mother who placed him in an orphanage, after falling pregnant by his Nigerian father and soon the pretence of behaving like someone you're not in order to keep out of trouble, was soon took it's tool on McGrath who sought solace from Alcohol, which in a strange way became his best friend.

A sad story of a troubled genius who drank like a fish, yet played like a gladiator when on the field. A great read for any real football supporter who is bored of reading the autobiographies of the pampered, second-rate and arrogant average player of today.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thank You
Published 6 days ago by Julie R.
5.0 out of 5 stars top footie player
Best player I ever had the privalige to watch ......Paul simply is a legend. A REAL legend, as most footballers that are called legends don't have a patch on him.
Published 7 days ago by ckbairs
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read
Published 19 days ago by janet
5.0 out of 5 stars Great price, quick delivery *****
Great price, quick delivery *****
Published 24 days ago by M. Wymer
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and unflinching this is an absolute must for any football fan
Having only grown up only knowing "of" a Paul McGrath, I was intrigued by the title hinting at tragedy and/or redemption. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dylan
5.0 out of 5 stars Ooh Aah Paul McGrath
Quite a frank appraisal of a clearly talented but deeply troubled man. Good read mind you. Who to read next?
Published 1 month ago by Dougie Watt
5.0 out of 5 stars great read and honest
I have read a lot of ex sportsman autobiographies and this one is the best, a very honest account of Paul's life.
Published 1 month ago by Mr. P. Humphreys
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating story!
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
Excellent read ! You won't believe the content and the pain this lad went through !
Published 1 month ago by kevin lynch
4.0 out of 5 stars Fighting his demons
I found this a very powerful read. Having been a football fan all my life (West Ham) and seen Paul play several times , I was aware of Paul's drink problems but reading this book... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gary Hamill
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