4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Keeper Of Dreams: One Man's Controversial Story of Life in the English Premiership (Paperback)
The name Lars Leese doesn't mean a thing to me. Apparently he played for Barnsley when they had a season in the Premier League back in the late nineties, but even though he must have stood out being 6'5" tall, Lars Leese's goalkeeping career completely passed me by.
But, as this book explains, Lars Leese had a remarkable career. In his mid twenties he still had not established himself in German football. In 1997, after working his way up through the lower leagues he was at last playing for a big club, Bayer Leverkusen, but he was not the first team goalkeeper, nor was he the first reserve - he was the third choice goalkeeper. Despite this, within a few months he had signed for newly promoted Barnsley and therefore become a Premier League goalkeeper. Although his stint at Barnsley was brief - less than two seasons and only 21 games played - he did have his moments of glory, in particular a game in which Barnsley beat Liverpool 1-0 and Lars Leese was the hero, managing to keep out the Liverpool forwards and thus gaining the respect of the Anfield crowd.
Leese knew that his stay at Barnsley would not last once Barnsley changed managers following Barnsleys relegation and he was proved right. When an opportunity to join Scottish club, Hibs, fell through he found himself back in Germany, where he found it difficult to find another club. This book excellently manages to portray the anguish that Leese must have felt at this time. It was obviously a difficult time for him; months earlier he was starring in the Premier League and now he was finding it hard to find a club that would even give him a trial.
The most memorable chapters though are those that concern his time at Barnsley. His recollections of the players Christmas Party are proper eye-openers. At the one he attended two players were tactfully dressed as Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun and he then tells us that these parties usually degenerated into orgies as the booze would help the players lose any of the few inhibitions that they may have. He also tells us about the time when Barnsley went to Exeter for a pre-season training camp. Predictably this also included a drinking session; Leese couldn't understand why the English players did not visit the toilet every so often to empty their bladders like he did. His discovery why goes a long way towards explaining why at one point he asks `why do English players always act as they are in a kindergarten?'
This book is regularly lauded to be one of the best football books written by one leading monthly football publication. I wouldn't particularly rate it that highly but it is still worth a read to learn about the other, less glamorous, side of football.