Sergio Kun Agüero: Born to Rise

Born to Rise: My Story

By Sergio Kun Agüero and Daniel Frescó

Trinity Mirror Sport Media, 2015

Aguero.jpgOn first glance, Born to Rise: My Story looks like classic Christmas football fan fodder. On the cover, Agüero roars out of a football pitch in a plain light blue shirt (Manchester City obviously refused to give image rights), his Elvish tattoo on display. His name is big and central, next to that of his best friend Lionel Messi, who provides a pretty insipid three-page foreword.

However, take a second look, and you notice the size of the book. At 540 pages, Born to Rise is a hefty tome, the football autobiography equivalent of an old-school epic. So what exactly is there to fill all of those pages? The answer is – shock horror – plenty.

But first, a bit of a spoiler: this isn’t really an autobiography, or even a David Winner/Dennis Bergkamp-style fusion. There are first-person Agüero extracts dotted throughout but this is largely a biography written by Argentinian journalist Daniel Frescó.

On the whole, this format is a positive thing, especially for Agüero’s early years in Argentina where Frescó is able to call upon an impressive array of personal and professional sources. 200 pages into the book and ‘Kun’ is still only 13 years-old, excelling in the Independiente youth teams. For British fans, this incredible, pre-City detail is surely a real selling point. Perhaps most interesting of all is the groundbreaking financial/legal relationship between Agüero and the IMG group. And if you feel things are moving too slowly, there are boxes detailing his career highlights (debut, first goal, the Premier League winner against QPR) peppered throughout.

The downside to the format is that at times, Born to Rise feels a little too much like a propaganda piece. Agüero’s controversial departure from Atlético Madrid (he refused to celebrate goals as he tried to force through a transfer) is described in the dry language of a PR document: ‘throughout these times, Sergio left nobody in doubt as to his allegiance towards Atleti, identifying with the club’s values and adopting them as his own, as for him befits such a compliment. Elsewhere, the writing reads like a CV: ‘Kun had learnt to balance the obligations that come with such prominence with being able to enjoy his free time.’

These detours into bland biography aside, Born to Rise is a refreshingly comprehensive look at one of the best footballers in the world, and particularly the rise itself, from dirt pitches in an Argentinian slum to international tournaments and top European league titles. 500-plus pages may seem daunting if not excessive but Agüero’s rags to riches story is certainly worth reading.

Buy it here

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New Football Titles – May 2016

With a few notable exceptions (George Rinaldi’s Calcio’s Greatest Forwards, Michael Gibbons’ When Football Came Home), the yearly football book schedule doesn’t really kick off until the darling buds of May. Here are the big titles to look out for:

1. Soccermatics by David Sumpter (Bloomsbury)

Football statistics have never been so popular and neither, perhaps, have mathematics. So Professor Sumpter’s idea is perfectly-timed; think Soccernomics but looking at the geometry of formations and the role of probability theory at the bookies. Forget Popular Science, this is Popular Maths.

Buy it here

Soccermatics

2. Forever Young: The Story of Adrian Doherty, Football’s Lost Genius by Oliver Kay (Quercus)

We know about Ben Thornley but do we know about the Class of 92’s other unfulfilled talent? Well, we soon will. Adrian Doherty was a brilliant winger and a highly intriguing character in a world of Nicky Butts. Told by one of the UK’s best sports journalists, this promises to be a fascinating but tragic tale.

Buy it here

Forever Young

3. The Romford Pelé: It’s only Ray Parlour’s autobiography (Century)

Bend it Like a Bullard must have sold pretty well last year because here’s another cockney geezer holding court. An underrated player and a renowned joker, Parlour is nothing if not entertaining. The brilliant cover image is worth the price alone.

Buy it here

Parlour

4. Rocky: The Tears and Triumphs of David Rocastle by James Leighton (Simon & Schuster)

From one Arsenal legend to another. David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle died 15 years ago at the age of just 33 after suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A skilful midfielder, Rocky was part of the Gunners team that won the 1989 league title in such dramatic fashion (see Fever Pitch). Leighton’s book features moving testaments from friends, family and team-mates.

Buy it here

Rocky

5. Four Lions by Colin Shindler (Head of Zeus)

The 50 year anniversary of ’66 will be celebrated to death (Henry Winter, Bobby Charlton…) so it’s nice to see a book taking an interesting angle. Colin Shindler is a social and cultural historian and uses the careers of 4 England captains – Billy Wright, Bobby Moore, Gary Lineker and David Beckham – to explore post-war Britain and a half-century of change.

Buy it here

Four Lions.jpg

6. Retired by Alan Gernon (Pitch Publishing)

There are few things I enjoy more than a great ‘Where are they now?’ story. Iain Dowie is now the regional sales manager for ‘Go To Surveys’ in case you didn’t know. This book explores the many trials and tribulations of hanging up the boots.

Buy it here

Retired

7. Football by Jean-Philippe Toussaint (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

A book about football by a prize-winning writer – if Eduardo Galeano is anything to go by, what’s not to love? There’s even an essay on Zidane’s headbutt.

Buy it here

Toussaint

8. The Periodic Table of Football by Nick Holt (Ebury Press)

‘108 elements from the football pantheon arranged by their properties and behaviour on and off the pitch’ – a brilliant concept and a lovely gift book.

Buy it here

Periodic Table.jpg