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  • Published: 9 May 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448114351
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 416

The Wizard

The Life of Stanley Matthews

The first full and objective autobiography of a sporting legend, revealing the professional and private lives of one of the world's greatest ever footballers

'Stanley Matthews taught us the way football should be played' Pelé

'I couldn't believe he was just a man. He was the best player in the world' Bobby Charlton

'He told me that he used to play for just twenty pounds a week. Today he would be worth all the money in the Bank of England' Gianfranco Zola

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 acclaimed biographer Jon Henderson reveals for the first time.

Recreating the magic on the pitch and analyzing the key moments that made Matthews great, this is a meticulously researched story of a national hero and a fascinating insight into English football in the 20th century.

  • Published: 9 May 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448114351
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 416

About the author

Jon Henderson

Jon Henderson, a sportswriter for more than 45 years, has reported events from around the world working for Reuters and national newspapers, including the Observer and Guardian. His assignments included five Olympic Games and two World Cups. He is the author of three books: Best of British, The Last Champion: The Life of Fred Perry, and The Wizard: The Life of Stanley Matthews.

Also by Jon Henderson

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Praise for The Wizard

Portrays a lost world of heavy balls, burly strikers, fog-bound pitches, £20-a-week wages, and teams who would travel to away matches by train and walk to the ground from the station

Blake Morrison, Guardian

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

Blake Morrison, Guardian

A marvellous, well-written biography that doesn’t shirk from exploring controversial episodes in Sir Stan’s life

Press Association

Henderson succeeds in digging deeper, revealing a more complex character. Fallouts with managers, private dramas. It’s fascinating stuff!

Four Four Two

Conveys 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

David Robson, Sunday Telegraph

Like his subject…the author has done his groundwork brilliantly

Simon Redfern, Independent on Sunday

What makes Henderson’s biography so interesting is the portrait it provides of an entire life, the Cold War love story after Matthews had finally hung up his boots a fascinating addendum to a career that came to a close at his testimonial at Stoke City in 1965

Ben East, Metro

Staggeringly well-researched

Roger Alton, Spectator

Henderson seeks to dig up fresh revelations about Matthew’s private life

Matt Dickinson, The Times

Well-researched and cannily written

Harry Pearson, When Sunday Comes

A lovely, truthful book

Iain Finlayson, Saga

A must-read for all soccer fans


Lucidly researched

David Miller, The Oldie

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