I'm Not Really Here Paperback
by Paul Lake
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.
Earmarked as an England captain in the making, 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; sustaining 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 sidelines as similarly injured players regained their fitness, he spiraled 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.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages
- Publisher: Cornerstone
- Publication Date: 02/08/2012
- Category: Autobiography: sport
- ISBN: 9780099553250
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Review by AHS-Wolfy
I'm not one for reading much in the way of non-fiction but having enjoyed the Bert Trautmann biography earlier in the year I thought I'd give another Manchester City legend's book a go. This is a story of local lad makes it big playing for the team he supported as a boy. Captain of the team by the time he was 21 and being talked of as a future captain of the national side even though he was yet to receive a full England cap having only represented them at under-21 and B level. Unfortunately his career and the bright future were curtailed by serious injury and the poor treatment he received by the medical staff that he trusted to make him well again. Rupturing a cruciate knee ligament, going through an operation and rehab to make his comeback to the game and team he loved only for his knee to fail again and again sent him into a state of clinical depression. The death of his father and the collapse of his first marriage certainly added to his woes at this time. Depression was never treated as an illness during this period and so he never could be open about how he felt. He'd often spend time at the cinema just to be alone and avoid speaking to people for a couple of hours. Finally calling it a day at the age of 27. Steered towards physiotherapy as his new career he even ended up back at City as his first job, looking after the academy team and despite moving on to other clubs due to needing distance from the memories he later returned as a club ambassador for the charitable work that City do in the community.This is a forthright and honest account of the highs and lows of Paul Lake's life and career. Even though he was not treated well by the club, a proper diagnosis at the time of his injury would have seen his career back on track, he never comes across as bitter recounting only one instance where he had an argument with the then chairman who had been reluctant to pay for the correct course of action needed and so setting in motion the decline of a great talent. It was a very emotional read and there were plenty of times I'd have to stop to clear the lump from my throat or the moisture from my eyes but it also contains some light-hearted moments as well. Not only does it look at the life of a future footballing star but also deals frankly with the depression that sets in when that is taken from him. It's a powerful and emotional read and even if you're not a City fan I'm sure this would be an affecting read.