Paul Lake was Manchester born, a City fan from birth. His footballing talent was spotted at a young age and, in 1983, he signed coveted schoolboy forms for City. Only a short time later he was handed the team captaincy. An international career soon beckoned and, after turning out for the England under-21 and B teams, he received a call-up to the England training camp for Italia '90. Despite missing out on a place in the final squad, he suitably impressed the management, with Bobby Robson earmarking him as an England captain in the making. As a rising star Paul became a target for top clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool, but he always stayed loyal to his beloved club, deeming Maine Road the spiritual home at which his destiny lay.
But then, In September 1990, disaster struck. Paul ruptured his cruciate ligament and sustained the worst possible injury that a footballer can suffer. And so began his nightmare. Neglected, ignored and misunderstood by his club after a succession of failed operations, Paul's career began to fall apart. Watching from the side-lines as similarly injured players regained their fitness; he spiralled into a prolonged bout of severe depression. With an enforced retirement from the game he adored, the death of his father, and the collapse of his marriage, Paul was left a broken man.
Set against a turning point in English football, I'm Not Really Here is the powerful story of love and loss and the cruel, irreparable damage of injury; of determination, spirit and resilience, and of unfulfilled potential and broken dreams.
"a brilliant insight into the mind and life of a professional footballer and definitely worth a read." (
“a thoroughly likeable, candid, humble and generous narrator.” ( The Sunday Times Culture)
"Ex-Manchester City footballer Paul Lake's autobiography I’m Not Really Here is the latest life story to be snapped up by the big screen, telling the story of his relegation to the sidelines when an injury cut short his career." ( We Love This Book)
"Lake is the perfect antidote to the commonly held view that top footballers are just a bust of arrogant, overpaid, aggressive louts. He’s sensitive, honest, highly intelligent and palpably decent. He admits to having suffered depression, but he steers clear of self-pity, injecting a lot of humour into this story. This is one of the best sporting autobiographies I’ve read." (5 stars, Mail on Sunday)
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