Henry Hitchings

Hit Them Hard

The Second Half


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Footballers’ autobiographies tend to be crushingly dull. Their real highlights aren’t the spurious and febrile attempts to generate sales by stirring up controversy, but instead the inadvertently revealing titbits – such as Wayne Rooney’s description of his ‘very modern and greyish’ kitchen, or Ashley Cole expecting us to share his pain when he nearly crashes his car after being offered a paltry £55,000 a week to stay at Arsenal.

Roy Keane’s first contribution to the genre was a rare exception. While the blunt title of Keane (2002) held a promise of raw frankness – which was fulfilled – there were also passages of lyrical self-examination. Still, the most memorable scene was a brutal one: the Manchester United star’s clash with Alf-Inge Håland, an opponent who, he claimed, had previously accused him of faking an injury. ‘I fucking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think).

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