Friday 17 November 2017

Adams' latest book should be a manual for all football pros

Book review - Dean Goodison

Tony Adams' 'Sober'
Tony Adams' 'Sober'

There's little sympathy for Premier League footballers out there. On one level, that's completely understandable, as they have money thrown at them from all angles, stuff us mere mortals have to save months for gets given to them for free, they click their fingers and what they want falls in their laps. What's to pity? It's an easy existence.

On the other hand, remember being that bright-eyed 20-year-old. Settled in college, not a care in the world, the boss of yourself, nobody told you what to do. Mistakes were made along the way but who doesn't run into a few mishaps? At that age we all think we know everything. It's only in later life that you realise you knew nothing.

Well, marry those two together and it gives you the kid with everything that knows absolutely nothing. It's a recipe for disaster.

And many disasters are there, brushed under the carpet by agents protecting their player's, and their own, interest. Money is squandered, on drink, on drugs, but nowadays, even more often on gambling.

It's addiction. It was always common-place but help is more readily available now. Back in the nineties the whole subject of addiction was a mystery. People didn't view it as an illness, it was more of a way of life.

There was stigma attached to admitting you had a problem; that's not completely gone away but it is getting better.

Tony Adams was one of those brave men who owned up to his addiction when it was unheard of to do so. It was big news that the 'Donkey', as he was only somewhat affectionately known as, was an alcoholic. How could someone so strong, so forceful, on the field, succumb off it?

Adams broke down boundaries. He talked about his problems in his previous book, 'Addicted', and it brought great comfort to many in a similar boat, as it gave them a pathway, an example to follow. In many ways, his latest offering, 'Sober', is an even more important piece of work.

The book, co-written by journalist Ian Ridley, details Adams' life in the years since he overcame his addiction. It shows how, despite some tough times along the way, a strong mentality and the correct help really make a difference, a lifelong difference.

Adams has been sober for 20 years and he chronologically talks about the ups and downs along the way in this book. It's about his life as a footballer, coach, manager but even more about the life of a recovering alcoholic.

It's not you run-of-the-mill sporting autobiography. Adams' story is more interesting than that; it's a book, with his first work, that should be dropped around every football league ground in England, a manual for current pros.

Adams talks about his work setting up 'Sporting Chance', a treatment centre for sportspersons that go through addiction. He discusses death and how he dealt with it without turning back to drink.

There's interesting details about his work in China, Azerbaijan and Holland. There are some fascinating stories about travel, seeing as, like his former team-mate Dennis Bergkamp, Adams is terrified of flying and preferred to go by rail or road.

Nit picking, Adams does trot out some of the old clichés about foreign footballers and managers. That's not the real message of this book though, as it's about a life of dealing with addiction.

This is a worthwhile read for any sports fan, not just football. It's takes maybe 50 pages to get into the meat of Adams' story but stick with it.

There are uplifting moments, painful stories, highs and lows and even a few chuckles in an all-around worthwhile read.

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