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108
4.7 out of 5 stars
Back from the Brink: The Autobiography
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2007
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2010
this is a very good autobiography to read , paul had it rough from a very early age and how he became such a brilliant football player is amazing considering his troubles and addictions . the only drawback i had with the book was you would be reading the book through pauls words then suddenly the next paragrath would be an ex manager , player or partner speaking about him , this threw me on a few occasions because it happens so frequently . but when you get used to seeing the commers that's indicating it was being said about paul then it was very enjoyable.he could have easily been britains finest ever defender without doubt if he had the right attitude .fergie got rid of him because he could not get thru to him at all while mcgrath just got drunk and ignored him ,mcgrath now realise's he was wrong and fergie was right but if anything mcgrath got better once he left utd but was constantly plagued with his demons and still to this day i suppose.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2006
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2010
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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 12 October 2006
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
on 30 November 2006
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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 5 February 2007
We got to a stage in Ireland when masses and novenas were being said for Paul McGrath's knees. I saw him play for Ireland many times at Lansdowne Road and he always played as if he was the fittest and healthiest man in the world. There's no doubt that Jack Charlton's Ireland team of the early 1990's depended hugely on McGrath.

But behind all this was booze, booze, and more booze. McGrath's problems were well known near the end of his career, but not so much early on. There are no holds barred here - McGrath bears his soul and his struggles with the demon of drink. It is a riviting, if harrowing, read. All the time the reader who knew McGrath as a footballer will say "What might have been?".

Though McGrath was a successful footballer, there's no doubt that he could have played with top clubs like Man U longer than he did. He concentrated on where the next drink was coming from rather than football.

This book is a "warts and all" portrayal of a football great with alcohol the dominant factor. Really, it is more a story of alcoholism than football - be ready to be shocked at some of the content.

McGrath is to be commended on this book - it is not the usual run of the mill ex-footballer book that tells a few anecdotes and slags off past team mates and managers. It is an honest self portrayal of a flawed character.

I found this to be one of the best reads I've had in years. As a previous reviewer has said - "don't miss it".
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2007
I give four stars for the book - an amazing story, an unputdownable read, but with the faint shadow of a ghost (writer) about it.

As for McGrath himself, the reviews so far seem to say "What an amazing guy - he played while he was drunk!" Reading his story, I found myself saying "What an idiot - he played while he was drunk!"

I know what a genuinely nice guy he is - I've seen him in social situations and I know how shy and quiet he is. I also know that he is in Ireland's top three best ever players (Giles and Brady being the others, in my opinion). But I can't help thinking how much BETTER he could have been had he NOT frittered his career and his health away as he did. How many MORE caps he could have had, how much BETTER Ireland could have done, if not for the binges, the missed planes and the lost weekends.

I am fully aware that alcoholism is an illness and that Paul wasn't in full control of his faculties a lot of the time. But many people quietly fight it and beat it. Read here about how his children witnessed his degradation, about how his first wife went out of her way to help him when his second marriage foundered, read about the help and love given by Graham Taylor (who, along with Frank Stapleton, comes out of this story with his stock sky-high), then read about how Paul threw it all back in their faces with his helpless addiction. Some of it is heartbreaking - I lived in Dun Laoghaire as a child and my mother used to threaten me daily with the Bird's Nest, where Paul spent several years as a child - and most readers will understand why Paul was eventually afflicted, whilst maybe not forgiving him completely.

I recommend that when reading this, you take off your green-tinted "Ooh-Aah" spectacles.
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on 16 August 2010
Many books carry the promise of being 'warts-and-all' and then fail to deliver. Paul McGrath's autobiography is a breed apart. In re-telling his story, Paul McGrath pulls absolutely no punches and does not shirk any challenge (sound familiar?). What makes the book so special is that the re-telling is not a prurient or salacious read. What comes shining through is the brave honesty of an incredibly humble and shy man who gives it to you, and himself, straight. It also makes what McGrath achieved on the football pitch even more remarkable. One of my earliest recollections of McGrath was watching him in a centenary game for The Football League vs a Maradonna-led Rest of the World in 1988. Maradona had just won the World Cup with Argentina and was the best player on the planet by a mile, yet McGrath had him in his pocket all day and completely nullified Maradona's game. But it was at Villa that McGrath secured his reputation as one of the greatest players in the world. The story goes that Alex Ferguson needed to get rid of the boozers at Old Trafford and sold McGrath and Norman Whiteside whilst keeping Bryan Robson. Big mistake. Graham Taylor bought McGrath for a snip for Aston Villa and put him in the expert care of Villa physio Jim Walker. McGrath credits Jim Walker with keeping him alive, and when you read accounts of the physio being first at the hospital when McGrath had crashed his car drunk or helping him recover after trying to commit suicide, you realise that's no exaggeration. McGrath also had chronicly arthritic knees and yet careful emotional and psychological nursing combined with a complete lack of competitive training (an astounding feat in the modern game), resulted in some of the greatest performances ever seen from a centre-back and a deserved win as the 1993 PFA Player of the Year. I was lucky enough to see McGrath play that year and he was a colossus. The Villa fans simply called him 'God' and still sing his praises on matchdays to this day - a fitting tribute for a great man who deserves our love and thanks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2009
Recommended. nlike a lot of autobiographies, Paul's does not fail to go back to his roots and painful ones at that and the book is much richer as a consequence. A la Fergie n that regard.
However I can't quite go the full 5 stars on the basis that some of the key times, relationships and footballing moments don't show. And I think perhaps some counter-opinion to the best footballer line etc etc would be welcome for balance.
Nevertheless a cracking read and I wish PM the very best in whatever he does in the future.
RC
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