My England Years: The Autobiography Hardcover – 18 Sep 2008
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'Hailed as one of the best football autobiographies ever... If you love the beautiful game, this is unmissable' (Daily Mail)
'Compelling...beautifully co-authored' (Leo McKinstry, Sunday Telegraph)
'As in volume one, the combination of Charlton's story and the work of James Lawton is unstoppable' (Sunday Times)
'That the book doesn't quite live up to My United Years isn't a criticism - that it almost reaches the same heights is a sign of just how good a follow-up it is' (FourFourTwo)
The second volume of the most sought-after sports book of all time now available from HeadlineSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
As most of his autobiographical details were dealt with in the first book, the Manchester United Years, this book is almost totally devoted to football and there is very little of Bobby Charlton the man (as opposed to Bobby Charlton the footballer) in it. This is not meant as a critism because, like the first one, this is an excellent book.
It is largely forgotten now but fifty years ago the England football team was in a bit of the mess. At one stage - between 1958 & 1959 - they only won one game in eleven, and that was against an extremely weak USA team. As this book explains, the then manager, Walter Winterbottom, tried his best to build a winning team but he had an impossible task because in those days the England manager had very limited powers, having to refer most things, even team selection, to an FA committee. It was only after the arrival of the single-minded Alf Ramsey, in 1963, that things started to change for the better.
Being an integral part of Ramseys team (even if Sir Alf made sure that Charlton was aware that not even his place in the team was guaranteed)Bobby Charlton was well placed to cast judgement on his role in turning England into World Champions in 1966. He explains that to win the World Cup, Ramsey built a team containing not the eleven best English players but instead the eleven players who one do the best job as a TEAM.Read more ›
No living player is better qualified to write about their experiences with England than Charlton, whose time in an England shirt spanned from the monochrome era of Tom Finney to that of Peter Shilton (whom even I, a thirty year old, recall as an England player).
The problem with it, particularly in the pre-Ramsey years, is that too little material is stretched out. Most other players combine their club and international volumes into a single volume. The length of Charlton's England career allows him to do two books - but in the context of a player's career, 106 games is the equivalent of a couple of seasons. It would be a bit like David Beckham writing `My LA Galaxy Years' in forty years time.
There is also a sense that he plays up to his status as the grand old man of English football. And who could blame him? He has, after all, won everything there is to be won in a career marked with courage, dignity and distinction. But the tone can seem fogeyish and at worst rambling, inane, and not true to Bobby Charlton's voice. After all, could you imagine him saying the following passage?
"Perhaps he decided that in this new world of football, of changing formations and the clearest evidence that in terms of ball skills and tactical subtleties many rival nations had passed us by, we need, as another embattled public figure, Prime Minister John Major, would later say `to get back to basics'."
Fortunately, most of the rest of the book isn't as horribly written as this, and by the time Alf Ramsey comes on board this volume hits full pace.Read more ›
Despite this, the book is well-written, thoughful and informative. Here this great footballer leaves aside the pain and angst of Munich and transmits something of the sheer quality and competitiveness of football at the highest level. His convictions about teamwork are clear and here you feel is where he was most comfortable, immersed in what he did best alongside others of the same kind, where the only questions were how to play and how to win.
Finally, there are some striking glances into just how accessible top footballers used to be. For example, this most famous of Englishmen popped out to do some shopping on the morning of playing in the World Cup Final, in the capital city of his own country. I can vouch for this as I once wandered up his front drive, after he was a World and European Cup winner, and while he was hoovering the inside of his car I had a chat and obtained an autograph. For anyone who grew up watching Sir Bobby and remembers the era when he was simply the best English player alive then this book is a must-buy complement to volume one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
a true gentleman of the game, not like the overpaid tattooed oafs of todayPublished 10 months ago by victor meldrew and then some
Good follow up to My Manchester United years. His career with England gives a different perspective.Published 14 months ago by James Minifie