Hero and Villain: A Year in the Life of Paul Merson

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Hero and Villain: A Year in the Life of Paul Merson


Paul Merson provides an honest account of a year in football, starting with England’s 1998 World Cup campaign and his bitter departure from Middlesbrough, and ending with the conclusion of the 1998/99 Premiership season.

Merson’s career reached its peak as he gained selection for Glenn Hoddle’s England squad for the 1998 World Cup. Four years had elapsed since he openly admitted his alcoholism and addictions to gambling and drugs, and France 98 heralded the start of an incident-packed year for the former Highbury hero.

His insider’s view of the England camp makes fascinating reading: consoling an angry Gazza after his omission from the squad; the ribbing of Hoddle on the training ground; witnessing the dropping of David Beckham and the rise of Michael Owen – his partner on the pool table – and taking part in the epic match against Argentina, in which Merson scored a penalty. And the road to Euro 2000 is proving to be a bumpier ride than many experts had forecast.

On the domestic scene, Merson highlights his unique relationship with Gazza, the angst over his departure from Middlesbrough – what did Bryan Robson say to Merson on the day he left? – and behind the scenes at his new team, Aston Villa. He provides an illuminating insight into his new team-mates, including the troublesome Stan Collymore, and tries to identify the cause of Villa’s rapid fall from grace having led the Premiership at Christmas.

Capturing with startling clarity the day-by-day events on and off the field – including Merson’s latest harrowing battle against overcoming his alcohol addiction and the knock-on effect on his private life – this book will appeal to those interested in what life is like for a professional outside of football as well as to followers of the English game.

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