AF Book Review – Taking Le Tiss

So as I mentioned previously Matthew Le Tissier was arguably the most naturally talented player of his generation and despite the offers that came in for him and his obvious acclaim, he was more than happy to carry on playing throughout his career at the unfashionable Southampton enduring more end of season frantic pushes away from relegation that cup-winning forays.  Indeed Matt has not won a major trophy in his professional football career or come anywhere close to winning one.

He is now a pundit on Sky Sports and apparently because he saw autobiographical works coming from some of his colleagues he gave it a go.  In Taking Le Tiss Matt gives his account of his time in football.  It is not an in-depth personal story into aspects of his private life and how they have made him the man that he is.  This is a football book, looking at what contributed to his career and made it the way it turned out.

In as much as he states it’s not a kiss-and-tell it is is his chance to have his say on what others have said about him whether it’s his apparently unfulfilled potential, his lack of work-rate, his clashes with various managers or why he never played for England more often.  In this regard he doesn’t spare any punches in laying into those he didn’t get on with.  So Glenn Hoddle in particular gets a torrid time in the book especially for being Le Tissier’s boyhood hero only to turn out to be somewhat deficient in his human engagemet skills when dealing with Matt at England and in his brief tenure at Southampton.  Matt isn’t malicious as such, but he does make his feeling known about experiences in his life mostly with managers, rather than players.

This telling of Matt’s life portrays a guy who was relatively laid back but didn’t like to see what he considered injustice going on in the game.  Refs would come in for it with a tongue lashing if he felt they gave the wrong decisions too blatantly.  Matt is self-deprecatory throughout the book being well aware of his reputation for not running around the pitch too often both in a game in training.  He’s also frank about some of his habits which wouldn’t go down too well in the game today about fitness and proper diet.  Matt’s idea of a good diet is egg and sausage McMuffin for breakfast with plenty of sweets and coke consumed through the ay.

It is also intriguing about the guy from his own perspective as he is not only outspoken but has that touch of self-confidence that is very close to arrogance and conceit.  What prevents him tipping over into an unlikeable braggart is that appreciation of his flaws and openness about some of his insecurities throughout his career based as ever on whether he was in with his manager or not.  There is also the undeniable fact that the brother was good at what he did, and by good there was evidently no one near him for quality in his teams.  With such confidence and ability it’s not surprising to read that Matt enjoyed the managers who let him express himself and wasn’t quite as keen on those who would not play to his strengths.  He shares some of the challenges he had with the varying fortunes of both himself and the club lurching from one last day scramble to another with the occasional respite of playing well enough to finish in mid-table.  There is obvious appreciation for Alan Ball in his time as manager as the only one who got the best out of him because he built the team around him, although the tribute to the World-Cup winner who passed away was a bit brief.

It is not all about football, as well as his love of golf he does give a little insight into his family circumstances whether surrounding the divorce and then marriage to a love he had earlier in his career.  There is his undoubted love and affection for his parents, children and siblings, which brings a balanced view of the man.  He isn’t actually that football mad, but he loves the game and has an opinion on it that is worth considering.

This is an average football autobiography.  There’s nothing outstanding in its presentation and it is rather short as a read reflecting the style of a man who won’t witter on about something when he can just chill and say what he’s saying and have done with it.  The last few chapters are dedicated to what others think about him, which I took to be more a filler job rather than something seriously though out as adding to the life of the man.  It is interesting reading about the views of some of his managers especially someone like Ian Branfoot who Le Tissier didn’t really regard that highly.

You won’t come away from the book enthralled by the reading experience, but it has enough to keep you interested in it.  The appeal of it is deliberately for those who enjoy their football and remember Matt for his contribution to the game in his era.  In tha sense they should be satisfied with what he shares in this book.




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