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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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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. This is why the free scoring Jimmy Greaves did not play in the World Cup Final but instead the lesser talented Geoff Hurst did.
Although, quite rightly, the bulk of the book is about the 1966 World Cup and the build up towards it, Bobby Charltons two other World Cup campaigns, in 1962 & 1970, are well covered. The story of Englands quarter final defeat to West Germany after being two goals up and coasting is particuarly absorbing reading as there were many interesting side stories - Franz Beckenbauers marking job on Charlton, Gordon Banks's bad stomach, Englands capitulation after Charlton was substituted, Bobby Moore being accused of theft - involved.
A very good book, and together with 'The Manchester United Years' surely amongst the best fooball autobiographies ever written.
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