Why I'm Not Really Here should really be there among contenders for William Hill prize

The contenders for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year include some fine additions to the genre but as ever there are omissions that make talking points.

One is former Manchester City footballer Paul Lake’s excellent autobiography, I'm Not Really Here, the absence of which from the William Hill longlist published earlier this month is lamented by Brian Viner in today’s Independent.

Viner interviewed Lake, a brilliant midfielder whose career was wrecked by a knee injury before he could realise his enormous potential, at City’s Etihad Stadium ahead of this weekend’s Manchester derby and noted that his subject was feeling “a little deflated” on the day they met.

He writes: “The long list of contenders for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award has just been announced, and his book isn't on it. It should be. It's the best football autobiography I've read since Paul McGrath's Back From The Brink, and a similarly heart-rending chronicle of the vicissitudes of a sporting life.”

Now 42, Lake was forced to hang up his boots at the age of 27 after six years of operations, rehabilitation and failed comebacks.   No one knows what he might have achieved had he not suffered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in September, 1990.

Although Lake is back in the City fold as an ambassador in the community, his book highlights how the decisions made by the club during his treatment effectively wrecked his chances of rebuilding his career on the field.

He does, at least, have one very special memory of his time as a player, even though it was so badly limited, having been part of the City team -- indeed, a very influential part -- that beat United 5-1 in the 1989 derby at Maine Road, which remains one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s biggest humblings.

City fans can meet Paul Lake at the Waterstones store in the Stamford Quarter, Altrincham on Saturday, October 22. Paul will be signing copies of I'm Not Really Here from 10.30 – 11.30am.

I'm Not Really Here: A Life of Two Halves is published by Century.

Further reading -- Poignant tale of the player who might have been Manchester City's greatest star

William Hill Sports Book of the Year 2011 -- the longlist

Browse more football books



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