If you’re looking for some football autobiographies to read, these are a great selection from players who played in the World Cup hosted in Russia.

I was trying to read them all during the World Cup but got a little overwhelmed with the amount of reading and finished them in the month that followed. I was watching a lot of the matches and found it fascinating to see the players through a new lens having read their books. It could even influence the way you see World Cup odds in the future.

Although autobiographies are best written after a player has been retired for a few years these are still worth a read if you need to buy a book for a football fan.

I’ve noted a few of my favourite quotes from each of the books.

Tim Cahill | Jamie Vardy | Andre Iniesta | Luis Suarez
Neymar | Mesut Özil | Pepe Reinga | Maya Yoshida

Legacy: The Autobiography of Tim Cahill

Tim is someone we can all strive to be! His self-awareness is incredible and that’s seen throughout the book as he was always learning, always adjusting. Yet he has never strayed away from the core qualities that make him who he is, a passionate aggressive player who doesn’t shy away from hard work.

Name: Tim Cahill
Nation: Australia
D.O.B: 6 December 1979
World Cups: 4
Stars: 4.5/5

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My Favourite Quotes From The Book

  • I’m not the body, I’m not even the mind.
  • Even as a kid, that’s all you need: to catch that fraction of a second of pride in your father’s eyes.
  • Nothing is every predetermined. It’s a constant reminder to work hard, stay focused and never believe that your future is assured.
  • Long-term mental toughness as a professional comes from making a deal with yourself. Be honest about what you did well and not so well and, most importantly, whether or not you played with all your heart.
  • Sometimes, whether you’re right or wrong, it’s best to take the punishment in silence.

Jamie Vardy: From Nowhere, My Story

For those who want to read about someone who always had natural talent but nearly let opportunities slip away because of a lack of hard work, Jamie’s story is a great motivator. As part of a 5000-1 Premiership winning team, the story is always going to be good but there are times where he skips out on sharing some great insights in regards to those closest to him.

Name: Jamie Vardy
Nation: England
D.O.B: 11 January 1987
World Cups: 1
Rating: 4/5

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My Favourite Quotes From The Book

  • You never forget your roots –they made me what I am and I wouldn’t change anything about my backstory –but once I got to the top flight I was thinking only about being a Premier League player. That meant trying to behave like one, too.
  • It was a big learning curve for us all, but with stability at home I was able to deal with the disappointment in a way that wouldn’t have been possible a couple of years earlier.
  • Once you’ve had that chance and been involved, training for a week or two with the country’s best players, you don’t want to let it go.
  • It didn’t matter what obstacle was in front of us, we’d always carry on to the end. ‘Foxes never quit’ is the slogan above the tunnel at the King Power Stadium, and we followed that to the letter.
  • Nearly all of us in that team had suffered rejection at one stage or another, quite a few had played lower league football and, let’s be honest, clubs like Leicester aren’t supposed to win the title.

The Artist: Being Iniesta

Andre Iniesta is one of those people everyone can’t help but love. He sums it up himself with this quote in the book: “I consider myself a citizen of the world who is lucky enough to enjoy people’s affection.” The book details his life starting as a young boy with a shirt way to big for him, moving away from his family to learn the art of the game at Barcelona to all the highs and lows of his professional career.

Name: Andrés Iniesta Luján
Nation: Spain
D.O.B: 11 May 1984
World Cups: 4

Rating: 3.5/5

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My Favourite Quotes From The Book

  • People put my name into Google and they think they know me. But they don’t.
  • The obstacles that we encounter along the way help us to see life from another perspective and to lift ourselves up once more with even greater strength.
  • I consider myself a citizen of the world who is lucky enough to enjoy people’s affection.
  • The sportsman has something special inside of him that takes over in difficult situations. I was driven on by the desire, the passion, the feeling, and the pride of being a footballer.
  • When I was not playing and he thought I deserved to be in the team, he would say so. And when people stick up for you, then they earn your respect and your affection. It would have been easy to go along with what the majority were saying about me without making waves. He didn’t have to defend me. But he did. And he never asked me for anything in return. I never asked anything from him and he never asked anything from me. You do things just because you believe they are right and that is how he has behaved with me.

Luis Suarez – My Story: Crossing the Line

One of the more interesting football autobiographies. Luis doesn’t fluff about his more controversial incidents that have plagued his career. It’s fair to say he is an outstanding as a player who has gone through turmoil several times yet still managed to play world-class football for a long period of time. Thoroughly enjoyed this.

Name: Luis Suárez
Nation: Uruguay
D.O.B: 24 January 1987
World Cups: 3

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My Favourite Quotes From The Book

  • Speed and aggression sometimes disguises the flaws.
  • I learned that you have to train well, but ‘train well’ did not always translate simply as working hard; intelligence was as important as intensity.
  • There was no point in going it alone; you would just tire yourself out for nothing. Instead we coordinated the moves, choosing our moments carefully.
  • We all come from the same kind of families, that struggled and fought. And if you bring together people whose mentalities and experiences are the same, whose obsessions are shared, you have a big advantage.
  • You never want to get a pep talk before the warm-up or you’ll go out fired up too early and you’ll use up too much energy too soon.

Neymar: My Story: Conversations with My Father

This is a relatively quick read and is told in a memoir style with one chapter by Neymar Jr. followed by a chapter from his Dad. The chapters by his Dad are super insightful into the life of a football parent! Neymar, still young, has lots of worthy insight too, and he also had a controversial World Cup in regards to diving which adds to the context of the book and what he says.

Name: Neymar Jr.
Nation: Brazil
D.O.B: 5 February 1992
World Cups: 2

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My Favourite Quotes From The Book

  • You can never justify a mistake. My parents always taught me to not try to explain my mistakes, but try to learn from them.
  • In every game you play you face players also trying their best to win and to fulfil their own lifelong ambitions and dreams. As much as you try, sometimes things go wrong. There are things that are beyond our control. That’s why we always have to be physically and mentally prepared to the best of our ability, because when it’s your turn, you have to give all you can. And you may never get another chance.
  • If a child has a dream, he must chase it. And never give up, even if people say it will never come true.
  • It takes patience and also persistence to get better and try to make those who criticise today speak well of you in the next game.
  • One of the best things in football is to experience a sense of belonging, a feeling of ‘all for one and one for all’ among the players and the fans, and across an entire organisation.

Gunning for Greatness: My Life

Mezut is a legend in my eyes. He is someone who has experienced what a lot more people are going to be going through in the future by being born to parents from one nationality but growing up in a different country and culture. This isn’t always so smooth, and he does address many of the issues that have arisen in this tell all autobiography. And after the 2018 World Cup, I can’t wait to see his next book!

Name: Mesut Özil
Nation: Germany
D.O.B: 15 October 1988
World Cups: 3

Rating: 8/10

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My Favourite Quotes From The Book

  • You can definitely belong to two cultures. And you can certainly be proud of two cultures. A heart can beat Turkish and German at the same time. You can think like a German and feel Turkish. That’s how integration works. With mutual respect, like in a great football club.
  • You can’t take proper friends for granted. Nobody can. But it’s especially true for people in the public eye like me.
  • It’s crucial to me that if I can personally change something, that’s what I’ll do. But with actions, not by talking big. I know that my visit didn’t make the world a better place, and it would be naïve to think so. But I’m proud to have given those children a brief moment of happiness.
  • Players must be able to disagree at times –it shows that a team still has life and passion to it. It’s important to shout sometimes, voice your dissatisfaction, argue about bad passes or stubbornness on the pitch. It can be liberating as long as such discussions don’t cross the line. It’s fine to hurl criticism at others, air your grievances, as long as you don’t say anything personal or insulting. The following day, when you next see that person, you need to be able to look them in the eye and still have mutual respect.
  • As a footballer you rarely have serious doubts about your body. You toil every day to turn it into a high-performance machine, to strengthen the muscles, ensure that your motor functions are working smoothly and keep the tendons and ligaments stable.

Pepe – My Autobiography

Pepe is one of the most likable characters in football, and this football autobiography is an easy read with a conversational style. He doesn’t mince his words, and is honest, even when it makes him look bad (such as when he was drunk for 2+ days celebrating). If you’re looking for a good football book that has lots of (quality) life advice woven into it, this is it!

Name: Pepe Reina
Nation: Spain
D.O.B: 31 August 1982
World Cups: 4
Raing: 8/10

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My Favourite Quotes From The Book

  • It is only natural that you will be disappointed when you make a mistake. But you cannot allow the negativity to consume you, just as you cannot get too excited when you have had a special game or pulled off a great save. They are just two sides of the same coin and sometimes the coin goes for you and on other occasions, it goes against you.
  • We may have come from all over Spain and we may have also been fighting for our own futures, but the shared experience brought us all together.
  • Everything that I did to achieve that dream, every sacrifice I made, every effort I put in, every night I had to stay in and every minute I spent away from my family was worth it in the end.
  • From the minute I get out of bed to the minute I go to sleep at the end of the day I try to be positive with myself and everyone around me.
  • It is easier to recall the mistakes than the great saves. In my opinion, great saves are usually –but not always –the ones that matter the most.

Unbeatable Mind

Yoshida has written several books, but this is his first foray into one in English. For a first effort this is a solid book. The book focuses on him being a samurai, a resilient person. This outline is set before he wrote the book and I feel like it held him back. It felt like he had to force things into some insight into the way of a samurai. What impresses me most is how Yoshida is conscious of his Japanese upbringing and how it has influenced him overseas. He has adjusted well while remaining true to his roots and representing Japan like a boss on the world stage.

Name: Maya Yoshida
Nation: Japan
D.O.B: 24 August 1988
World Cups: 2

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  • Resilience can give you strength to keep moving forwards when you are caught in the rain or a storm, and keep you continuing on your journey through life. And it is a strength that resides in everyone.
  • Watching them, I sometimes told myself, ‘I shouldn’t do that,’ or ‘I can’t be like that,’ using them as a bad example.
  • In order to pass through such a narrow gate, it is important to have a clear vision of how you’re going to reach a higher standard from an early stage in your development. How far you go depends to a large extent on how high you set your goal as well as the actions you take to reach it.
  • Once you feel comfortable in your own skin even in an alien environment, surrounded by different languages, cultures or customs from your own, and you become accepted as yourself in that environment, then you can call yourself a world citizen.
  • If you’re willing to make a brave decision at an early juncture in your career, not as a gamble but as part of the vision you have for your own future as a professional player, it can make a huge difference to your future prospects.
  • Happy reading! And if you’re doing some betting like myself, let’s go Poland!