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on 14 April 2011
This is a brilliant and brutally honest book, up there with the very best football biographies you'll ever read. In fact, there's enough here to entertain even those with only a passing interest in the game: Merson's is a fascinating and cautionary tale. The story is eye-watering at times, as Merson takes us on a rollercoaster ride through the drink, drugs and gambling addictions which he has fought for his entire life and which plagued his career. But for every moment of horror - Merse sitting in the dark all day snorting hundreds of pounds worth of cocaine, watching the racing results on teletext and thinking about breaking his fingers so he can't phone in another bet - there are hilarious anecdotes aplenty, too (going to a gay bar with John Barnes, the utter mania of living with Gazza).
Merse may come across as a joker on TV, but this reveals how he got there. As a tale of excess, it's up there with Motley Crue's The Dirt. A must-read, and for my money, one of the books of the year.
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on 5 January 2016
A rather annoying book to be honest. We all have our flaws and Merson appears to be almost proud of his behaviour. To be honest I started this book over a year ago, and then parked it about 90 pages in, as it was getting on my nerves. I then picked it up on Sunday and struggled through about 40 pages before he turned a corner of sorts and it got interesting again. I manged to complete the rest of the book in just over 24 hours. Loved him as a footballer at Arsenal, and on Skye, but he must be thinking what he might have became with a more professional attitude to the game. A waste of a talent (albeit he won loads).
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on 14 June 2011
As a Walsall fan I was fascinated by his recollections of his spell at the Banks Stadium both as a player and much maligned manager. The patience of Walsall Chairman Jeff Bonser (not the most popular character at Walsall) comes through as he indulged his star player and even put up the money for his addiction rehab in America. Merson's basic honesty also comes across well. He didn't rate Scott Dann - soon to be a centre back for a leading Premiership team - and admits his oversight. He also says that he didn't think he was manager material and was thrust into the job somewhat reluctantly. Its a shame that his spell as a manager will be most remembered by Walsall fans and not his dream debut against West Bromwich Albion where his two goals contributed to a stunning 4-1 win. the amount of money he claims to have lost is truly staggering. Lets hope that that is now in the past.
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on 6 December 2011
As an Arsenal Supporter who saw Paul Merson make his debut, and watched live many of his performances, this book was always going to be of great interest to me. Although I already knew many of the facts about his turbulent personal life, reading the man himself recount them with brutal honesty was quite gripping.

The title of this book says it all: this autobiography is not a sports one but really a tragic tale about a deeply flawed man who just happened to be a professional footballer. Merson's chronic addictions to gambling, alcohol and cocaine almost wrecked his career, and left him in poverty. And had he not sought and received professional help he, in his own words, would now be "six feet under".

While reading this book it struck me that it would be very useful to any psychiatrist or councillor who specialises in treating addictions: Merson's honest descriptions of exactly how he was feeling as, again and again, he pushed the self-destruct button were deeply enlightening. His gambling addiction was so strong that an American councillor advised him to spend NINE MONTHS at a clinic in Arizona.

This book also goes into great detail about Merson's football career, as he tells about the big games that he played in and his (sometimes very short) spells at different clubs right across England, from Middlesbrough to Portsmouth. However, the thing missing from this book is the information about his personal life. His two wives and (I think) four children barely get a mention. How he met them and how they felt about his out-of-control lifestyle are not covered in any depth.

This book is a entertaining read which I found hard to put down. At the end of it you don't know whether to feel sorry for Merson or angry at him: he did have a successful career but it could have been so much better. And he should now be a rich man instead of a flat-broke ex-pro.
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on 1 March 2015
This is a decent autobiography by a player whom I enjoy watching on Sky Soccer Saturday. It shows how he constantly got into trouble because of his addictive personality but at no point does he come up with excuses. This book will interest football fans but wouldn't mean a lot to anyone else.
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on 1 March 2015
A tragic tale from a man who has accepted responsibility and is not scared to tell events how they were instead of putting a gloss on or blaming others. Makes you feel for his loss, and to be pleased he seems to have put himself back on track. Should be required reading for football fans.
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on 16 July 2016
For a mid 30 football fan, this book is excellent. Mersin just tells you how it is. He gives you a good insight into the arsenal and international set up in the 90's. A Time when I was growing up with football in the brain. So it's interesting reading about all the goings on with some of my child hood heroes. Excellent read, thoroughly recommended
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on 6 March 2015
This may not be great or up there with some of the really well written footballing biographies but it's not bad either. If it were a football team it wouldn't be in the champions league but it would probably be still chasing a Europa league spot.

Merson certainly wasn't scared to take a walk on the wild side or gamble big literally and figuratively. He recounts some cracking stories about various high jinks with fellow professionals and people who should know better and he was undoubtedly a great if not inconsistent talent who never really reached the regular heights he might have.

This is a decent enough read as there is plenty of chaos fuelled antics going on, headlines, bans, stint in rehab etc which help to make it a worthwhile read.
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on 16 February 2015
I loved this book and read it cover to cover in no time at all. It's not the longest book in the world anyway, but it does flow from one chapter to the next. It has it's funny bits, it's sad bits, and it's 'in-between' bits, but all of it is worth reading to see how a professional footballer can blow all his earnings so easily. As Merse admits at the end, if he hadn't drunk/gambled/snorted his earnings he would be a multi-millionaire now, but is humble to admit that is his fault. The book will definitely appeal to Arsenal fans and also to general lovers of the game, especially young players who are either on the verge of breaking into the game and earning their first big contract, or who have just got in. Read the book and learn How Not to Be a Professional Footballer.
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on 9 January 2016
Paul Merson speaks with brutal honesty about his football career in the top flight, his drug,alcohol and gambling addictions in this funny and at times quite astonishing autobiography. As the title says if you want to be a professional footballer do not try to emulate his lifestyle. How he ever made it on to the pitch after some of his antics is amazing,never mind achieving all the glory and trophies he won. The guy is a legend!
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