The image of Lee Sharpe searing past poor Mel Sterland in a match in the early 1990s is lodged in my memory - surely, I thought at the time, this guy will go down as one of the greatest United and England players of his generation. This book explains, to a large degree, why that never happened.
Sharpe and Giggs were contemporaries and, in fairness to Sharpe, he is quite blunt in this book that the Welshman was in a different class in terms of football ability. But the longevity and success that Giggs enjoyed - strictly on the football field, mind - stands in stark contrast to Sharpe who, through a combination of injuries, misfortune and undoubted poor lifestyle choices, ultimately ended up playing part-time football in Iceland.
But, throughout the book, Sharpe comes across as a likeable character and a decent bloke who is always honest about himself and the mistakes he made. He is never less than engaging and some of the anecdotes are absolutely hilarious. It's funny but I wondered, having read this book, about Giggs' clean-cut image and we've all seen what happened there!!!!
All in all, as Eamon Dunphy would say, a good book but not exactly a great book. Just about worth the cover price but a tome that leaves you with the feeling that Lee Sharpe should have achieved much, much more on the football field.
As a Utd fan, I snapped this book up in the sale for next to nothing and then discovered it was even autographed by the man himself - my first hint that this book was probably not a great seller. I have very fond memories of Sharpe scoring a skilful and very cheeky back flick against Barcelona - unfortunately, it appears it never got much better than this for Lee.
Lee Sharpe would probably like to compare himself to George Best & there are similarities, the boy wonder that joined Manchester United and went on to enjoy great success before throwing it all away on the good life - unfortunately, the comparables don't quite match up. George Best became one of the worlds greatest ever players, winning European Player of the Year by almost single-handedly winning the European Cup. The height of Lee Sharpe's success on the other hand appears to be scoring a hat-trick against Arsenal which is mentioned a few too many times in the book. George Best went out with some of the worlds most beautiful women including Miss World and Miss United Kingdom, Lee Sharpe's serious love affairs appear to amount to a childhood sweetheart & a young lady affectionately called "Jugs". This book also lacks many of the humorous "Where did it all go wrong Mr Best?" anecdotes George Best was famous for. Thou I must admit, I did find the "Why do they never put Vimto in the drinks machine" story pretty amusing.
As a consequence, we are left with a book immersed in self-pity, self-doubt and passing the blame. It does offer an insight into football management & the on goings of the football industry pre the glamour and fame of the Premiership but it is mostly Lee moaning about not being loved enough, being played out of position or not being played regularly enough and this is hard to take. At the end of the day, he was still wanted at Utd having received a huge pay rise and playing at the world's biggest club, something most kids can only dream of. It was his decision to leave and miss out on the immense success that was just around the corner. Instead, he is left to reflect on what may have been and past glories albeit too few for someone who was once undoubtedly an exciting young talent.
This was a purchase for a cheap read on holiday one year and I was glad I didn't spend too much money on it.
The book started off interesting enough, describing his rise from the depths of league football to Manchester United, but then it goes down hill from there.
The book all too quickly turns into a chance for Lee to moan about what he must feel was rough justice with his partying habits - often asking "if I was Ryan Giggs would I have been dealt with in this way?" Which does get very repetitive very quickly.
The chapters after him leaving Man United and signing for Leeds and playing in Iceland are more tolerable, but by the time you reach those, you will have had enough about the man who's goal celebrations would always bring a smile to our faces.
The way that he comments the special events of his life is captivating; his relation with Ferguson, the influence of Robson and the end of his career. It's a really good book with a great sense of humor.