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Left Foot Forward: A Year in the Life of a Journeyman Footballer [Paperback]

Garry Nelson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 May 1996

Garry Nelson is not one of football's household names yet he made almost 650 League appearances in a career stretching back to 1979. This book describes the 1994-5 season at Charlton Athletic but it could be any in which he reveals the ups and downs of what it is like to be an ordinary professional player.

There are the injuries, the battles for selection, and the worries that age is catching up on him, which would mean the end of his career. But there are also the occasional triumphs, such as when he was appointed captain and scored the winning goal in a televised match.

Written with wit, intelligence and insight, LEFT FOOT FORWARD reveals far more about what it is really like to be a footballer than any number of ghosted autobiographies by the big stars. It is destined to become a classic of football writing.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; New Ed edition (23 May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747251827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747251828
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 10.3 x 17 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 446,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


If your interest in professional athletes lies this side of idolatory, read it. Fear is Nelson's companion; fear lit with occasional shafts of relief. And that is what sport is about (Simon Barnes, The Times)

A very good read indeed (Brian Moore)

For all the glamour of your Giggsys, Nelson's season portrays a more accurate picture of what life is like for 99 per cent of pros (Amy Lawrence, FourFourTwo)

It should be compulsory reading for any ambitious parent intent upon their son playing professional football (Michael Parkinson, Daily Telegraph)

The most candid and compelling behind the scenes football book you'll come across (90 Minutes)

He has produced a rarity: a book by a practising sportsman that seems to tell it like it really is, intelligently and engagingly (Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

What it is really like to be a footballer, written with wit, intelligence and insight

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top class tale of football's wilderness 20 May 2001
The question might easily be asked: who is Garry Nelson?
To call him a nobody is unfair, but he has never reached the heights of the Premiership as a footballer, nor was he ever going to in all reality.
As one of the 'cloggers', a journeyman as the title of the book would say, he has all the same worries about the rest of us - bringing up a family, making a living etc; but also has all the additional problems of being a professional sportsman.
As one of those not in the top bracket of wage earning and coming to the end of his playing days, every little knock has the possibility that it could end his playing career, and he is working on what he can do to get by after he has finished.
Of course this is a few years old now, and an addendum is that he is now working for the Professional Footballer's Association; but what comes from Left Foot Forward is the confirmation that he is as honest as the day is long -- and this will undoubtedly hold him in good stead in this role.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A great book that really does deliver everything said on the back. There's not too much to say that hasn't been said already, but it's a great diary of a season that really does have everything. A crippling injury, and goalscoring streak, contract worries, times when nothing goes right. And his everyday life of his normal family, as well as his wider, Everton supporting family. Reading this feels as if you know Garry, and as soon as I finished reading it, I was desperately trying to find out if he had a follow-up, to know what happened to him next. He describes other footballing matters as well as clips from his past, and it's interesting to note that the highlight of his career, the best moment of his football was the exact day I was born....
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I generally try to steer clear of the usual drippy "look at my perm" footballer books but this was recommended to me & didn't fail to deliver it's promise. A well written, honest and humorous portrayal of everyday professional sport. I liked the diary format and was left wanting to know more when it was finished, I felt like I had got to know Garry a bit and liked his down to earth modest attitude (rest assured he was a class act). As a follower of the Mighty Greens I particularly enjoyed his graphic description of that key goal for Argyle! All together now "One Garry Nelson" "Theres only one........
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read 23 Sep 2001
Interesting because Garry Nelson is not famous footballer (I had not heard of him until I read this book). It's part diary of a season of a first division football team (which Charlton were when this was published) and part autobiographical. It's very well written and funny in places. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left foot forward 13 Sep 2007
Written in diary form,this is Garry Nelson's account of the 1994-95 season,playing for Charlton Athletic in the second tier of English football,the old Division One.
Written with witt and intelligence,Garry paints an accurate picture of what it is like to be a professional footballer outside of the glamour and lifestyle of that of a Premiership star.
The long journeys,the injuries,being out of the team and playing with the 'stiffs',contract issues,all covered in some detail here and you learn more about what it is really like being a professional footballer with this read than you would reading an autobiography of some superstar International that is made for life playing for one of the 'big boys'.
The only problem is,if like me you like to read one of these books that dishes the dirt and tells of training ground bust ups and fall outs with managers ect,then this may dissappoint as Garry Nelson is far too intelligent for any of that sort of stuff.
A good read and worthy of it's shortlisting for the William Hill sports book of the year and will appeal to most football fans,especially those of Charlton Athletic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Unknown Binding
Gary Nelson was a hero at Charlton Athletic when he was (by his own admission)getting to the end of his career that had not seen him become a sporting celebrity or and International player. His diary of events over a season was very funny and also touching. The book is a fine read for anyone interested in football and not the glamour of the Beckhams of the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
An excellent read. Shearer, Gascoigne, Bergcamp and Petit maybe the players that take the plaudits and the rewards of football, but this is life in reality away from the spotlight and is the day to day grind of the non glamour player. Whilst Ian Rush pulls in a fortune in one nights testimonial, players like Nelson can only dream of the interest from that night in a year.
If you want the true grit of the footballer in the lower leagues, you cannot get any grittier than garry Nelson's book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight into the life of a professional footballer (from a few...
Really good book, if you like football and autobiographies etc then this is an excellent read. For 2 or whatever it is, well worth the entertainment.
Published 15 months ago by Peter Walters
3.0 out of 5 stars 1 of 6
Garry Nelson's (heavily) ghost-written account of a year in his life as a 30-something, Fiat Tempra-driving, relatively unknown journeymen footballer at Charlton Athletic was... Read more
Published 23 months ago by S. Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars Life of a journeyman football player
Garry Nelson was a journeyman football coming to the end of his career when he wrote this book, and it was partly his way of coming to terms with the end of this stage in his life. Read more
Published on 9 July 2012 by Sport Nut
5.0 out of 5 stars Rivals Davies, beats Dunphy. Astonishing.
Just as "The Glory Game" has persisted beyond 1972, so Nelson's great book, reread nearly twenty years later, retains all its qualities. Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2012 by I wish my Amazon account to be cancelled, their corporate practices are objectionable to me.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book - Real football
Got this on a recommendation.

Great read showing the ups and downs of life as a footballer, and gives fantastic insight into the other side of the beautiful game. Read more
Published on 27 May 2008 by Soul Man
4.0 out of 5 stars A book of two halves
The first half of the book is fascinating as all the other reviewers have pointed out - a real insight into behind-the-scenes at an average club. Read more
Published on 1 Oct 2007 by valedied
4.0 out of 5 stars a must for every football fan
really good read. You don't have to be a Charlton fan, just a passing knowledge of football will do to enjoy it. Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2000 by
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