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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Insightful, Honest, 28 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Neville Southall: The Binman Chronicles (Hardcover)
Neville Southall: The Binman Chronicles
"The many faces of a football great - revealed for the first time." It is exactly these words at the back of the book, in combination with a hilarious and straight-talking radio interview, which tempted me into reading this book.

Southall, the legendary Everton and Wales Goalkeeper, has kept himself to himself after retirement. This is bucking the trend. In today's game, players seem to release autobiography's the minute they retire from the game or, worse still, before they've barely started and actually achieved anything. Southall has done something completely different: he gives a compelling insight into an utterly formidable career after achieving the many landmarks that has characterised his personal, footballing and post footballing career.

Whilst I may be an avid Everton fan, I am still as cautious as anyone in picking up a footballer's autobiography. So regularly they are boring, long-winded and purely a money making exercise. I feel this is very different for Southall: he is a man with a point to prove.

The Binman Chronicles outlines the quite extraordinary story of Southall's highly successful career as a Goalkeeper playing at the highest level of the national and international game. The young man from Llandudno (a small coastal town in Wales apparently) transforms from a binman waking up at 0430 to supplement his paltry income to the most formidable goalkeeper in the English game to a man dedicating his life to dealing with the disengaged youths in Kent. It should be clear that is by no means a normal football autobiography.

One of the real treats served up in this book is Southall's take on Everton's European hopes being cruelly taken away from them in 1985 (disappointingly, there is less insight on the Hillsborough Disaster). It really feels as if the words on the page are coming right from Southall's heart as he outlines the emotions and impact that infamous decision had on Everton's dramatic collapse as the country's top side. Southall goes on to give highly interesting and controversial reasons for the ban on English teams participating in European football.

The book ends with a different kind of insight: an insight into the world of negotiating with NEETs (young people Not in Education, Employment or Training). It is the way this book transforms seamlessly from the grit of professional football to the teaching of desperate young adults that give this autobiography an edge in the crowded football market. Whilst Southall is at times guilty of lapsing into giving details of too many games and goalscorers, this is nonetheless an excellent buy for those wanting an honest insight from a true footballing legend into what the game was like in the by-gone era of the 1980s and 90s.
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