The ‘journey’ is an often overused term these days, everyone’s on a journey, reality TV contributors have about five a week, and in doing so perhaps as a nation we’ve become guilty of acknowledging every small step in our lives as some sort of climactic process, a dramatic and troubling experience to share on social media.
Of course many people do encounter challenging times and circumstances, many of whom use this as fuel to fire their burning ambitions. Like the ‘often’ overlooked journey to sporting superstardom. What does it take to reach the pinnacle of sporting prowess? To be the man or woman who, under the utmost pressure, finds a way to succeed at all costs.
Inspiring generation after generation of young people, the sporting star is someone we hold in the highest regard. The rugby World Cup in Japan that lies just around the corner will surely produce a new wave of stars.
Ben Stokes after a turbulent time in his life, has come full circle to national treasure status and surely at this rate has the makings of a wonderful autobiography candidate. Like many before him, it’s often the frailties and indiscretions.
A good sports autobiography despite often causing controversy a la Michael Owen and Alan Shearer (see Twitter spat), has the power to inspire kids, remind us adults about what really matters and to lift the veil on success. The grass isn’t always greener and all that.
The searingly honest account of a life spent in the sport he hates, Andre Agassi’s memoirs from tortured child to teen rebel and nearly man, to becoming the oldest player ever to be ranked Number 1.
This is a gripping, at times upsetting read as Agassi recounts in great detail the pressure cooker he experienced from childhood, with him being forced to play the game, his violent father, the media spotlight and how success really doesn’t make you happy. As sports autobiographies go, this is one of the most candid ever written.
“Big dreams are so damn tiring.”- Andre Agassi
In a world obsessed with self-help and social-climbing gurus’ advice on how to, why, when and where. Visualisation, manifestation, following your dreams, setting goals, the world’s awash with making the not real a reality. However, one man who sits above the parapet, a man who proved all of these things to be worthwhile additions to your morning regime is Arnold Schwarzenegger.
From a skinny impoverished child in Austria to becoming Mr Universe, and then the biggest movie star on the planet. If anyone proves hard work and unwavering determination to fulfil your dreams pays off it’s the former Governor of California. Inspiring stuff!
“If you don’t believe in yourself, then how will anyone else believe in you?” – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Kevin Pietersen has always struck a chord, as the type of man who might have the wherewith-all to have an argument in an empty room. So no surprise that in a room full of men, in a high pressurised scenario, well one can only imagine the fallout.
A man who divides opinion in the main due to his uncompromising willingness to point out where everyone else is going wrong, is, let’s be fair, a good subject for an autobiography. Bucket loads of controversy from an incredibly talented sportsman.
“I did pretty well to score the number of runs I did at the average I did with so many man-of-the-matches – so I’m not having this where people say, you played for yourself, you’re selfish.” – Kevin Pietersen
There can be something quite uncomfortable about brutal honesty, laying your soul bare, but in mind of his tumultuous journey out of addiction, perhaps a necessary tool in recovery.
Tony Adam’s autobiography offers a graphic recollection of his descent into alcohol addiction and the disturbing manner in which his battle with the booze affected every aspect of his life, something that resulted in a prison sentence. One of England’s greatest faced his toughest challenge off the field.
“I woke up in my room, kit and clothes strewn everywhere. That set of questions familiar to any drunk started to penetrate my brain. Where am I? What happened? What did I say?” – Tony Adams
The man who gave us such gems as “the older I get, the better I get, like red wine”, and manages to refer to himself in the third person while keeping a straight face. Whoever you support it’s hard not to like Zlatan, and with a pedigree for winning like his, he might just be as good as he says.
Another thing that is good is his autobiography, where he recounts a difficult poverty-stricken childhood all the way to life as one of the world’s wealthiest sportsmen. Very funny and wonderfully written, we’d expect nothing less.
“Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it. I thought ‘there is my enemy, scratching his bald head!’. I yelled to him: ‘You have no balls.” – Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Brian Moore is a man who is known for not mincing his words, and on the rugby pitch somebody who would rather walk through the gates of hell than take a backwards step in the confrontational maelstrom of the front row. A master of the dark arts and an incredibly complex character off the field, all of which makes for a fascinating account.
Not least is this true because of his challenging and at times traumatic childhood. Half Malaysian, half British and adopted make for an interesting start in life, add in the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of a teacher and it’s a miracle he rose to the very top of his profession.
“One of sport’s cruellest or finest aspects, depending on which side you are on, is the fact that its gladiators win or lose in public, in the full glare of the media and the millions watching at home or in bars.” – Brian Moore
Another rugby player who wasn’t backwards in coming forwards, was Adrian Morley, a sporting physical specimen who threw his body on the line week after week, the like of which you’ll unlikely ever see grace the hallowed turf in modern sport again. And by all accounts he was as fearless off the pitch as on it, if the barroom brawls and late-night punch ups are anything to go by, something a young Moz delighted in.
The man who managed to get sent off 12 seconds into a test match with Australia, despite the chaos, was also one the finest League players Britain has ever produced, underlined by the respect, affection and regard in which the pommie bashing Aussie fans have for him.
“Getting hurt never bothered me, so long as I hurt them more; that’s all I cared about.” – Adrian Morley
Which are your favourite sports autobiographies? Let us know in the comments.
Click the banner to share on Facebook