Morning all, a rapid Saturday round-up for you.
As an add-on to yesterday’s Arsecast with Nicklas Bendtner, I’d genuinely recommend his interview with the always superb Donald McRae in the Guardian. The headline tell me something spate:’ I became too fond of the lifestyle that came with the money‘.
For me, when reading the book, it was the thing that rushed out at me most. Not that it should be any surprise to anyone that he liked to party, but even so I was a bit taken aback at times at just how much booze was a consistent factor in his life. From an early age, as soon as the money started to come, so did the drinking, the nightclubs, my best friend and the hangers-on who ever hover around people who are happy to spend their own money on a good time. There’s a lot of detail in the book- perhaps a bit too much for my flavor about the madams in his life but that’s just a personal thing and to be fair, it’s fairly on-brand for Bendtner.
It’s difficult to read it and not “ve been thinking about” his career and how it played out. It’s a constant theme throughout his time at almost all the clubs he’s at. His first credit to Birmingham City, his time at Arsenal, at Sunderland, and beyond, and the connection between the drinking and the fact he didn’t fulfill his potential is impossible to ignore. There were people who tried to steer him on its path, Steve Bruce during that credit sorcery when he was Birmingham manager was one; Arsene Wenger to an extent; but it’s very tough for some young men , now ridiculously rich, to rein in the good times.
I know some people will say’ That’s his own choice, he made a mess of a chance that we’d give our fucking arm, so tough turd ‘, and that’s not unjust. He expended more money than the majority of members of us will ever earn, so it’s not easy to be sympathetic, but I never located myself thinking that when reading the book. I can’t fairly explain it, but he doesn’t seek tendernes for one thing. I was also somewhat fascinated by the ability to know something is’ wrong’- in terms of lifestyle etc- and need to go and doing it anyway.
When you read it, it extends some style to demolish the semblances we have- or like to have- about how professional footballers live. Not all footballers etc etc, but there’s a lot of fund, a great deal of temptation, a great deal of of recreation to be had because of all that. So, while there are those who live on the strait and narrow, who do their utmost to be at their physical pinnacle throughout the season or their professions, there are probably more than we realise living in a way which we don’t view as compatible with the demands of Premier League football. Occasionally legends “ve been coming”, we verify them in the tabloids, but football clubs, agents, overseers, and so on, often move heaven and earth to keep things quiet.
Underneath it all though is a kind of innocence … I think that’s the wrong command, to be honest … perhaps naivety is better. Bendtner was charitable, he spent his fund on other people as much as he did himself. There were parties very close to him- he mentions his Dad in particular- who really didn’t have his best interests at heart because he was bank-rolling them more. And when your life is being played out in public gaze in the newspapers, figurehead sheets and back- even bearing in mind your own responsibility in some of it – it’s got to be hard to cope with at what is still a pretty young, formative age.
I didn’t come away from this journal reflecting’ That Bendtner bloke is a dickhead ‘, I liked him more. The same with the interview for the podcast. I’ve done batch of them down the years, with some high profile people, but I was nervous about this one because I wasn’t sure exactly who I was going to talk to. I truly enjoyed those discussions, he came across a very open, very nice guy, and while part of that might be doing the rounds promoting a bible, you can sense when someone is genuine or otherwise, and to me he absolutely was.
These epoches, it feels like there’s little chamber for subtlety in the opinions we have, but two things can be true. You can feel like Nicklas Bendtner didn’t make the most of his expertise or the opportunities “hes having” in football because of his own behaviour and his lifestyle, while at the same time liking the man himself and having some sympathy for some of the issues he had during his career and his life. There’s an overtone of sadness that’s inescapable. For me, at least.
I have to say that the co-author, Rune Skyum-Nielsen, has done a very good job of captivating Bendtner’s’ expression’ if you like. Many football profiles have a ghost writer, but too often they sound like a columnist trying to squeeze in zany anecdote after zany fable, and that’s not the case with this book. It is unflinchingly Nicklas Bendtner, from start to finish, and that might to be too much for some people, I theorize, but it committed it all that extra bit of authenticity.
If you haven’t had a chance more to listen to the podcast, all the links you need are below. The book can be obtained from your regional independent bookshop who now, more than ever, need your business. The South American river tax-dodgers certainly don’t, so if you can get it on the high-pitched street or the small business close to you, please try. More from me tomorrow, until then.
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