Henry Hitchings

Hit Them Hard

The Second Half


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 304pp £20 order from our bookshop

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).

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter