The Wizard: The Life of Stanley Matthews

Jon Henderson

The Wizard: The Life of Stanley Matthews

Stanley Matthews is one of the most famous footballers ever to play the beautiful game. Nicknamed 'The Wizard of Dribble' for his deadly skills, he made fools of defenders around the world. He played 84 matches for England in a career that spanned an extraordinary 33 years and such was his popularity that attendance for his club teams, Stoke City and Blackpool, more than doubled when he played. He was a global superstar decades before Beckham, Ronaldo or Messi, yet what do we really know about this legendary man? This first full and objective biography looks beyond the public face of the 'first gentleman of soccer' to explore a life not without controversy. This was a player who clashed with his managers, who felt undervalued in the age of the maximum wage - leading to a charge of blackmarketeering - and who was criticised for his showmanship and perceived lack of team spirit. There were private dramas too - an unhappy first marriage that produced two beloved children, and a second, to the love of his life, a Czech with a dark secret even Matthews never knew and which biographer Jon Henderson reveals for the first time. 3.5 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
The Wizard: The Life of Stanley Matthews

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Biography, Sports, Hobbies & Games
Format
Pages
RRP
Date of Publication May 2013
ISBN 978-0224091848
Publisher Yellow Jersey
 

Stanley Matthews is one of the most famous footballers ever to play the beautiful game. Nicknamed 'The Wizard of Dribble' for his deadly skills, he made fools of defenders around the world. He played 84 matches for England in a career that spanned an extraordinary 33 years and such was his popularity that attendance for his club teams, Stoke City and Blackpool, more than doubled when he played. He was a global superstar decades before Beckham, Ronaldo or Messi, yet what do we really know about this legendary man? This first full and objective biography looks beyond the public face of the 'first gentleman of soccer' to explore a life not without controversy. This was a player who clashed with his managers, who felt undervalued in the age of the maximum wage - leading to a charge of blackmarketeering - and who was criticised for his showmanship and perceived lack of team spirit. There were private dramas too - an unhappy first marriage that produced two beloved children, and a second, to the love of his life, a Czech with a dark secret even Matthews never knew and which biographer Jon Henderson reveals for the first time.

The Last Champion: The Life of Fred Perry by Jon Henderson

Reviews

The Independent on Sunday

Simon Redfern

... it would be a shame if [the revelation about Matthews' second wife] diverted attention from the author's masterly crafting of the real meat of the book, Matthews's extraordinary football career and how it was shaped by his complex, often crabby personality ... Of all the new facts here, perhaps the most surprising is that, for all his mesmerising skills, Matthews was rubbish at keepy-uppy. Like his subject, though, the author has done his groundwork brilliantly.

12/05/2013

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The Sunday Telegraph

David Robson

Non-sports fans, inevitably, will find their attentions wandering. It is well-nigh impossible to recapture the excitement of a match between Stoke City and Sheffield Wednesday at this remove of time … What the book does well is convey the ethos of football in a bygone age, when money was secondary to sportsmanship and even world-famous players would take the bus to the ground. There is a marvellous vignette of a match at Highbury in 1946 played in such dense fog that a player who had been sent off simply stayed on the pitch.

01/05/2013

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The Times

Matt Dickinson

A conventional biography, Jon Henderson’s The Wizard,/i>, takes us back to Matthews’ youth and explains how his running prowess was nurtured by his father. Matthews was still outrunning full-backs when he was twice their age.

27/04/2013

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The Guardian

Blake Morrison

[Matthews] left his wife of 40 years, Betty, to take up with the four-times married Mila Winterova, who when they first met was still an agent — code name Greta — for Czechoslovakia's secret police ... The unpicking of this cold war love story is the most original part of Henderson's biography, Matthews himself having published various "official" versions of his life. The book portrays a lost world of heavy balls, burly strikers, fogbound pitches, £20-a-week wages, and teams who'd travel to away matches by train then walk to the ground from the station. But it isn't sepia-tinted.

11/05/2013

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