Tyson Fury does the double at the 2020 Telegraph Sports Book Awards, as England Coach Eddie Jones wins The Rugby Writers’ Award

July 15, 2020

Tyson Fury picked up two awards, winning Sports Autobiography of the Year, as well as the night’s big prize, as Behind The Mask won The Telegraph Sports Book of the Year 2020, selected from a shortlist of each of this year’s winning titles. The judging academy came to a unanimous decision, with a book that charts the extraordinary story of the rise and fall and rise again of Tyson Fury.

Eddie Jones, the England Rugby Coach, won the Rugby Writers’ Book of the Year, pipping his coaching rival Warren Gatland and former Lions captain Sam Warburton to the title. Written alongside Donald McRae, the three-time Sports Feature Writer of the Year and twice winner of the William Hill Sports Book of the Year, My Life and Rugby is the story of one of the most compelling and singular figures in sport. A story told with unflinching honesty, not least in his account of England’s 2019 World Cup campaign, this is the ultimate rugby book for all fans.

Eddie Jones said:
“I’m delighted to win rugby book of the year at the Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020. I’m also really pleased for the publishers Macmillan and writer Don McRae. They did such a great job in putting the book together so I think this is great recognition for them. It’s nice that people have enjoyed the book and hopefully they’ve got something out of it as well. Thank you to the panel for selecting the book for this award.”

With English Cricket finally getting under way only last week, The Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year was deservedly given to Cricket 2.0 by The Telegraph cricket writer Tim Wigmore, alongside Freddie Wilde, charting the rise of T20 cricket. The book is fast becoming a roaring success, after picking up the Wisden Cricket Book of the Year award.

Football has returned recently, albeit in a different guise, although this year’s winner is more concerned with matters off the pitch, with Tobias Jones and his book Ultra picking up the CLOC Football Book of the Year, in partnership with The Football Writers’ Association. Ultra is a fascinating examination into a facet of Italian football’s subculture, scrutinising the sinister side of fandom.

Cycling’s popularity has continued to rise throughout lockdown, as has Peter Cossins’ star, as he picks up the VAARU Cycling Book of the Year for the second year running with The Yellow Jersey. His book, beautifully illustrating the allure of the Yellow Jersey, stunned our judging panel.

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards have partnered with the inspirational National Literacy Trust as our official charity partner for 2020, and they have also helped us set up the inaugural Children’s Sports Book of the Year. We hope the award will inspire children and young people to get into reading through their love of sport. Matt Oldfield’s excellent Unbelievable Football was a worthy winner of the very first award, after managing to stave off the challenge of Sir Chris Hoy, England footballer Casey Stoney and BBC Sport’s Clare Balding.

Our inaugural winner Matt said:
“I’m absolutely delighted to win this award, especially with so many other brilliant books on the shortlist. The late great Johan Cruyff once said, ‘Football has to be fun for kids or it doesn’t make sense’, and I’m a firm believer that the same goes for reading too. With Unbelievable Football, our aim was to showcase the incredible range and power of sporting stories – to inspire, inform, entertain, and, above all, engage young readers. So thank you, this award is the perfect prize.”

The Pinsent Masons International Sports Book of the Year was awarded to Casey Legler’s Godspeed. Legler was a teenage Olympic Swimmer whose early adult life was beset with problems. Godspeed is a raw account of dealing with horrific abuse, battling alcoholism and drug use; it is a story of survival against all odds.

Brian Moore, Telegraph Rugby Writer and Chairman of the judging category, was blown away by Casey’s book, stating “It’s an amazing and powerful memoir and a worthy winner.”

This year’s General Outstanding Sports Writing Award winner was Mind Games, an insider’s guide to the psychology of elite athletes from Olympic rower Annie Vernon, who won silver in Beijing, alongside Dame Katherine Grainger, Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton. Drawing on her personal experiences, as well as interviews with some of the best coaches, athletes, and psychologists, Vernon explores and uncovers the traits and techniques of the world’s best athletes.

The Illustrated Sports Book of the Year Award went to award-winning photographer Richard Pelham with A Life Behind the Lens, an extensive look at Sun Sport’s leading photographer’s life work spanning 30 years and six World Cups.

Finally, Biography of the Year went to Richard Askwith’s Unbreakable, a story of endurance and defiance, focusing on the inspirational life of a Czech countess and her perilous journey to taking part in a prestigious steeplechase.

The prestigious Sports Book Awards Judging Academy features dozens of esteemed sports men and women, as well as the country’s finest sports writers across several generations. This year’s judges included Sir Tim Rice, ex-England rugby player Brian Moore, ex-England cricketer and leading broadcaster Darren Gough, Olympic gold medallist Christine Ohuruogu, BBC Broadcaster Louise Minchin, European Rugby Chairman Simon Halliday and BBC broadcaster Jill Douglas.

The 18th Sports Book of the Year Awards was sponsored for the second time by The Telegraph, and hosted by BBC Sport and ITV Racing host Rishi Persad. The highlights show for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020 was pre-recorded at Wimbledon, with thanks to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, as well as BBC Sport. The announcement was led by an extensive social campaign, which included acceptance videos from our winners, judges’ comments, and several winners’ interviews with our host Rishi, BBC and Sky Sports.

Adam Sills, Head of Sport, The Telegraph said:
“The Sports Book Awards have delivered another great shortlist and campaign this year, despite difficult circumstances. We are happy to be once again supporting these awards and the work they do to highlight outstanding sports writing and publishing. Congratulations to all the winners and those shortlisted this year.”


The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020 winners in full:


Telegraph Sports Book of the Year Behind the Mask, Tyson Fury (Century)

Autobiography of the Year Behind the Mask, Tyson Fury (Century)

Biography of the Year Unbreakable, Richard Askwith (Vintage)

Children’s Sports Book of the Year Unbelievable Football, Matt Oldfield (Wren & Rook)

The Heartaches Cricket Book of the Year Cricket 2.0, Tim Wigmore & Freddie Wilde (Polaris)

VAARU Cycling Book of the Year The Yellow Jersey, Peter Cossins (Yellow Jersey Press)

CLOC Football Book of the Year Ultra, Tobias Jones (Head of Zeus)

General Outstanding Sports Writing Award Mind Games, Annie Vernon (Bloomsbury)

Illustrated Book of the Year A Life Behind the Lens, Richard Pelham (Pitch Publishing)

Pinsent Masons International Autobiography of the Year Godspeed, Casey Legler (Scribe)

Rugby Book of the Year My Life and Rugby, Eddie Jones (Macmillan)

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020 are grateful to our sponsors and partners, including The Telegraph, Sky Sports, BBC Sport, CLOC Printing, The Football Writers’ Association, Pinsent Masons, VAARU Cycles, The Rugby Writers’, Sir Tim Rice’s The Heartaches, Cross Pens and our charity partners, The National Literacy Trust.

Interview with Mark Eglinton, Ghostwriter of Michael Owen’s Autobiography ‘Reboot’

July 5, 2020

England’s talisman and goalscoring extraordinaire Michael Owen is one of only four Englishmen to have been awarded football’s highest individual honour, the Ballon d’Or. Following his debut autobiography in 2004, Mark Eglinton took up the reins to help get a fresh take on Owen’s life story, six years after hanging up his boots.

1. Congratulations on being involved in Reboot, which has been nominated for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards Autobiography of the Year, in your role as ghostwriter, can you tell us how you came to be involved as ghostwriter on the book?

It was quite a simple process in this case. Where in other circumstances a project might arise as a result of a conversation with an agent or a publisher, in this instance the conversation was directly with Michael and his management. We discussed what the book could be given he’d written one many years previously when he was still playing, and we agreed that there was an opportunity for something unique. Michael Owen in 2018 when we first started talking was a fundamentally different person to the 2004 version. We went from there…

2. How closely had you followed Michael’s career before you began the project? Did you have any preconceptions before you started on the book and were there any particular stories or issues you really wanted to address?

I was always a fan of his footballing endeavours. As a Celtic supporter I saw him play at Celtic Park in 1997 in the UEFA Cup. He was electrifying. Beyond that I’m a racing enthusiast too so it was logical to follow what he’s been doing with Manor House Stables since he retired from football. Beyond that I always felt that there was a lot more to him than what was presented publicly. There was a clear opportunity to get that across without the burdens of club / manager/ agent loyalty getting in the way of the truth. As far as preconceptions – not really. I try to not get sucked into believing press portrayals, good or bad. As a ghost-writer I can’t really afford to judge.

3. Can you tell us a bit about the actual process of working with Michael to get the material for the book?

It was primarily in-person. From time to time I’d drive to the Chester area and stay in a hotel. We’d meet up during the day, usually at his home, and just talk. We’d go for lunch at a local pub and just keep talking. We did this several times and it was great to build a really important relationship. I was never interviewing him per se. We just talked – and the conversations inevitably went all over the place, as good as he was at sticking to one train of thought.

When I wasn’t with him, we did a huge amount of constructive work via whatsapp. I have literally hundreds of voice memos from him at various times: thoughts, recollections, stories etc. He was incredibly engaged from day one until the book went to print. It was total collaboration, which was refreshing.

4. Was there anything unexpected that you learnt about Michael or any particular stories that surprised you or that you really connected with?

Michael is undeniably a little (and unapologetically) eccentric! – I didn’t appreciate just how much until we worked together. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that. He has a unique way of viewing the world and in many ways that method is part of the reason why he was and is so successful at everything he does. He simply will not allow negativity to encroach on his thinking. Some would call that delusion, but in his case it really isn’t. It’s a means of navigating the world that has been his since childhood. So, stories that we’ve all heard about him not liking movies, never having had tea or coffee etc. are all absolutely true. None of them surprised me!

5. The title of the book has various connotations, can you explain a bit about how it fits in with the autobiography?

I’ll take credit for that title! It was my idea. Apart from the obvious footballing connotations, I saw the book as an obvious route to redressing a few things – and by extension ‘rebooting’ his image somewhat. It’s that simple. There were so many misconceptions out there that needed explanation at a point in his life where he could do so without fear of any kind of repercussions. So you’re right – it’s a dual purpose title that will stick in people’s minds.

6. Michael shot to global fame at the age of 18 as a fresh-faced teenager and that’s an image that has followed him around ever since, so how important was it to shake off that image and allow Michael to emerge as a more rounded person in this autobiography?

Very important. As Michael says himself, that image was created for him and for good reason. The commercial benefits of an image that was attractive to blue chip brands were many and welcome. However, it is and always has been a false image. He’s not squeaky clean and never was, so from that perspective it seemed appropriate to show the entirety of his personality, good and bad. And for the record he was always forthcoming when discussing his faults and weaknesses. I didn’t have to drag it out of him at all. In fact, I got the impression that the whiter than white image had been something of a burden for him, and one he needed to shed for good.

7. Michael is only one of four English players to win the Ballon D’Or, as well as having former records for England goals and various Premier League and FIFA accolades, do you think he gets the recognition he deserves for these achievements and his career?

No, I don’t. And on some level I can understand why he doesn’t. People remember the most recent image of someone. And in his case that most recent image was a player ravaged by injury playing a bit-part role at best at Stoke City. It was as if that Michael Owen was a completely different person from the scorer of that incredible goal in St Etienne. Part of the book’s purpose is to explain how the young Michael became the older one, and everything in between. Injuries play such a huge part in that transition, but his record speaks for itself. Even at Real Madrid, where it’s become irritatingly fashionable to say that he failed, Michael played more than people think and his goal-scoring record was good.

8. Michael was very much a precursor to the modern game, with his speed and style of play, did we see the best of him or do you think he would have been even better playing today?

I always get frustrated when people say that Michael’s only gift was pace. While it’s undeniable that pace was a tremendous weapon in the early part of his career, there was a lot more to his game. Obviously he was as cool as anyone in front of goal. Few would argue that Michael Owen was as sure a thing as you could want when one on one with a keeper. But how many people talk about his heading ability? Or his positional awareness? As much as his pace was lethal, Michael Owen also knew exactly where to be, and did it all so instinctively as I’m sure Steven Gerrard would confirm. He’d be as effective in today’s game as in his own era.

9. What are you most proud of with this book?

We set out to make it no-holds-barred. For lots of reasons it’s easy to get defensive or cautious and to stray from that path. I take little credit for that; Michael wanted this book to address many misconceptions and to call things as they are in a way that’s rarely done in sports autobiographies. I’m just proud that we got it all down in an entertaining way that surprised a lot of people and perhaps led them to understand why he made some of the career decisions he did – decisions he has always stood by.

10. We can’t ignore the fact that we all had to get used to a world without sport, what have you particularly missed and are there any particular sporting events you are looking forward to?

I’ve been a bit conflicted by this throughout lockdown. On one hand, as a sports fan, I miss the familiarity of the calendar: the Masters in April, the 2000 Guineas in May, the Derby in June, Wimbledon – and everything in between. But on the other hand I’ve caught myself feeling that sport – as much as we love it – is all a bit trivial in the context of a global pandemic. Which view is right? Probably a bit of both. Sport is important, and it’s a way by which we all relate. But safety has to be paramount or else sport’s meaning and significance is lost. I’m sure some kind of normality will return to sport and life, but I suspect it might take longer than we think.

11. Imagine if you will a world where we can all have dinner parties, which four sporting greats past or present would be invited?

Henrik Larsson, Tom Watson, John McEnroe, Mick Kinane

12. And finally, what three words would you use to sum up Michael Owen?

Loyal. Intense. Cold. ( all in the nicest possible way!)

Interview with James Hogg, Ghostwriters of Jason Plato’s Autobiography ‘How Not to be a Professional Racing Driver’

July 5, 2020

Twice BTCC champion Jason Plato has lived life in the fast lane both on and off the circuit. James Hogg, who has previously worked with Johnny Herbert on his autobiography, amongst others, was tasked with ghostwriting Plato’s eventful life story.

1. Congratulations on being involved in How Not to Be A Professional Racing Driver, which has been nominated for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards Autobiography of the Year, in your role as ghostwriter, can you tell us how you came to be involved as ghostwriter on the book?

I was writing a book with the motorcyclist, Dougie Lampkin, and he mentioned that he and Jason were friends. I asked him if he’d ask Jason if might be interested in writing a book and he said yes. The books I write are nearly always my idea. That way I’m more invested.

2. How closely had you followed Jason’s career before you began the project? Did you have any preconceptions before you started on the book and were there any particular stories or issues you really wanted to address?

I was just an armchair fan of BTCC but knew full well that Jason was at the top of the tree. The only preconceptions I had were things that Dougie had told me, although some of them were pretty astonishing. I knew it was going to be interesting.

3. Can you tell us a bit about the actual process of working with Jason to get the material for the book?

I went to his pile in Oxfordshire and we talked a lot, drank a lot and smoked a lot. I was treated like a king. Jason’s a natural raconteur so it was a joy really.

4. Was there anything unexpected that you learnt about Jason or any particular stories that surprised you or that you really connected with?

I’m very much a self-starter and when I began talking to Jason I realised that he was from a similar mould. He sits on a different plain to me though and the story of how he came to drive for Williams is incredible. He actually door stepped Frank Williams. Jason’s a one off.

5. The title of the book touches on the fact that Jason hasn’t always done the natural or expected thing for a racing driver, but do you think that makes his achievements all the more impressive?

Not at all. Jason has talent to burn which has allowed him to burn the candle at both ends and in the middle. He’s a delightful, gifted and seriously entertaining freak of nature.

6. How refreshing is it to have someone like Jason, who is very much a personality, as a subject matter for an autobiography and do you feel that in some ways this sense of personality is sometimes not as visible in modern sports stars?

One of the many things I admire about Jason is his refusal to compromise, so what you see is always what you get. There’s no media training and if somebody tells him to do something or say something that he doesn’t agree with he’ll politely refuse. He drives in exactly the same fashion – minus the politeness.

7. Jason’s life story really is a roller coaster of crazy events, were there anecdotes that didn’t make the final cut?

Yes. A lot.

8. Jason is still competing at the age of 52, what do you think continues to motivate him?

A desire to win and a fear of boredom.

9. What are you most proud of with this book?

The fact that Jason represents a minority sport, yet his book has been a mainstream success. And the title, which I pinched from Paul Merton’s book.

10. We can’t ignore the fact that we all had to get used to a world without sport, what have you particularly missed and are there any particular sporting events you are looking forward to?

I’ve missed sport, full stop. Conversations that would normally last an hour have lasted seconds since lockdown and I’m fed up with it. I also like watching sport in a pub environment so with neither being available it’s been torturous. The event I’ve missed the most is the Monaco Grand Prix. I’ve been watching that race since I was eight and when its cancellation was announced I was heartbroken. Well, very disappointed.

11. Imagine if you will a world where we can all have dinner parties, which four sporting greats past or present would be invited?

Brian Close
Graham Hill
Barry Sheene
Paul Gascoigne

12. And finally, what three words would you use to sum up Jason Plato?

(but delightfully so)

Interview with Felix White, Ghostwriter of Jimmy Anderson’s Autobiography ‘Bowl. Sleep. Repeat.’

July 5, 2020

With the record for test wickets by a fast bowler, James Anderson has established himself as England’s greatest ever bowler. Co-presenter of the BBC podcast Tailenders, Felix White, helped turn Anderson’s historic career into his debut autobiography.

1. Congratulations on being involved in Bowl. Sleep. Repeat, which has been nominated for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards Autobiography of the Year, in your role as ghostwriter, can you tell us how you came to be involved as ghostwriter on the book?

Thank you! I’m very touched that we have been nominated as it is the first book I’ve ever written and was certainly a collaboration that would have been deemed almost psychedelically left-field a few years previous. Jimmy and I, alongside Radio 1 breakfast host, Greg James, have been co-presenting the BBC podcast Tailenders for a couple of years now. The show was supposed to just be a few episodes during the Ashes in which Jimmy gave us some insight into the England dressing room. Three years later, it has snowballed to a never-ending weekly broadcast that is not reliant on any cricket happening at all. To begin with though, it became clear that we had a very rare insight into every aspect of what being a highly successful fast bowler for decades entailed through Jimmy’s honesty. The book came about as a bi-product of that. As my job is, in the main, as a musician, it felt like a completely different project for both Jimmy and I and one that we were keen to make have a voice of it’s own.

2. How closely had you followed Jimmy’s career before you began the project? Did you have any preconceptions before you started on the book and were there any particular stories or issues you really wanted to address?

Through Tailenders and my general love/borderline obsession with Cricket, I knew Jimmy’s career very well. A lot of the time it felt like I actually remembered the specific details better than he did! That was where it became interesting, because I was able to pour all of my fanaticism and recollection into the writing whilst searching for specific aspects of how it actually feels to achieve them. We became keen on bridging the gap between the viewer and the sportsman, punctuating the ways that playing for England can still resemble the relationships and communities you find in club cricket, and looking for a heartening current through it all.

3. Can you tell us a bit about the actual process of working with Jimmy to get the material for the book?

We put this together through stolen hours really; sometimes immediately after recording Tailenders, often when Jimmy was on tour in different parts of the world, and occasionally even in the pub. The intent was to compartmentalize sections, so that there were sections where a child club player picking up the game and thirsty for knowledge could literally learn the mechanics of swing bowling, and then it could move into something more personal to Jimmy through many of his now mythologised moments, then back into more general, flippant truths about cricketers and their lives. It made for a process that didn’t ever feel like a burden, which added to the novelty of the experience and allowed for it to be whatever it ended up as, without being too handcuffed to a theme or plan.

4. Was there anything unexpected that you learnt about Jimmy or any particular stories that surprised you or that you really connected with?

Despite taking more Test wickets than any fast bowler in the history of the game, Jimmy doesn’t consider his main skill on this earth to be swing bowling. He more values his ability to crush cardboard into his recycling bins at home by getting into it and stamping it down.

5. Jimmy is still in the midst of his career, so what was the motivation behind telling his story now?

It is extremely rare to find a cricketer, or a sportsman for that, who is still improving and at the peak of their game, whilst having traversed three generations. It felt like a timely moment to mine Jimmy’s head for all that experience whilst currently still living it, as you rarely ever get that opportunity to explore that.

6. Cricket is experiencing something of a halcyon period on the back of last summer’s epic events, although Jimmy didn’t feature in the World Cup and was hampered by injuries in the Ashes, how important do you think last summer has been for Jimmy and his fellow cricketers?

Cricket is a strange game in that it feels like it is perpetually terrified about it’s own existence. I don’t think it comes from the players, more the conversation surrounding it. It was a genuine relief and, more to the point, thrill, then that they won the World Cup in such dramatic fashion, on terrestrial television, with such a multi-cultural side. It really felt like the game was swooping around to re-define itself and mirror the world around it for a second. I hope it will be of huge significance to the game moving forward.

7. With the short form of the game gaining so much publicity and coverage in recent years, test match cricket, of which Jimmy has been a stalwart, is often having to battle against dissenting voices, how significant has Jimmy and his record-breaking career been in keeping test matches relevant and interesting for a modern audience?

Much the same as the last point, Test cricket has always had this anxiety. Jimmy has undoubtedly been able to stitch together some purpose to the side for over a decade. It’s also important that watching him bowl is genuinely an artistic experience. You feel like you are watching something completely innate and completely honed, where the battle of the game becomes momentarily graceful. Very few players in the history of the game have been able to combine both that and success, which makes it a total pleasure to witness.

8. As Jimmy approaches his 38th birthday, there are often murmurings about retirement, and when that day eventually comes what do you think Jimmy’s legacy will be?

I think he will be remembered, by the vast majority, as England’s greatest fast bowler ever.

9. What are you most proud of with this book?

As I mentioned, it’s the first book I have written, so it was diving into the unknown. I enjoyed the discipline very much and felt momentarily lost when it ended. I know from recording albums, that’s when you feel like you’ve done something worthwhile.

10. We can’t ignore the fact that we all had to get used to a world without sport, what have you particularly missed and are there any particular sporting events you are looking forward to?

I miss Cricket very much. I miss everything about it, but more than the sport itself, I can really feel the lack of a constant backbone or pulse to check in to without it whith is uncomfortable and disorientating. It’s really re-affirmed how important these things our in our lives to a lot of us. I’ve used the time to get into baseball though, watching classic old World Series games, and have found myself falling in love with it the same way I did Cricket as a child. It’s been a nice feeling to re-locate that giddiness of being enthralled by something still unknown.

11. Imagine if you will a world where we can all have dinner parties, which four sporting greats past or present would be invited?

I like watching specialists get unnecessarily irate about sport, and am not sure that I would be able to ask enough interesting questions to penetrate an evening with Mohmmad Ali etc so I would probably line-up the worst passages of play of 90’s football and the worst batting collapses in history on a computer, then sit it in front of Gary Neville, Roy Keane, Nasser Hussain and Michael Holding with takeaway Pizza and just ask them to discuss.

12. And finally, what three words would you use to sum up Jimmy Anderson?

Bowl. Sleep. Repeat!

Interview with Josie Le Blond, Ghostwriter of Eniola Aluko’s Autobiography ‘They Don’t Teach This’

July 5, 2020

Eniola Aluko is one of England’s top ten most capped female players and goalscorers, whilst off the pitch she has been at the forefront of change within the women’s game. Josie Le Blond was tasked with helping to ghostwrite Aluko’s life story.

1. Congratulations on being involved in They Don’t Teach This, which has been nominated for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards Autobiography of the Year, in your role as ghostwriter, can you tell us how you came to be involved as ghostwriter on the book?

I was contacted by publisher Yellow Jersey Press in September 2018. I was asked to get involved in Eniola’s project because of my previous ghostwriting experience – helping to tell the story of Syrian Olympic swimmer and refugee Yusra Mardini in her 2018 book, Butterfly.

I first spoke to Eniola on the phone later that month while I was in Uganda for work. We chatted about facing down adversity and overcoming challenges. Eniola said she wasn’t looking for a collaborator with a sports background, but for someone to help capture her voice and tell the full story of her life to date.

2. How closely had you followed Eniola’s career before you began the project? Did you have any preconceptions before you started on the book and were there any particular stories or issues you really wanted to address?

I first became aware of Eniola’s story when her dispute with the Football Association hit the front pages in the summer of 2017. In my day job as a news journalist, the ensuing fallout was my introduction to her England career. Yet on joining the project, it was quickly clear Eniola wanted to create a book that went far beyond the headlines.

Eniola wanted to explore the challenges she had faced throughout her life in a way which would impart lessons to her readers. We began by fitting the chronology of her life together with these hard-learned teachings, so that the book could be structured like a course outline.

Of the topics Eniola wanted to highlight, it was clear early on that her identity struggles and sense of belonging would become one of the book’s central themes. I was anxious to get the tone of these discussions right and to reproduce Eniola’s pioneering black female voice in a way that sounded as powerful, authentic, and honest as she does in conversation.

3. Can you tell us a bit about the actual process of working with Eniola to get the material for the book?

I met Eniola in Turin, where she was then playing for Juventus, in October 2018 to start gathering material. We spent three days talking through her life story and exploring her personality and character. As we spoke, lots of incidents stood out that we both felt would make strong stories to include in the book.

I then went back to Berlin, where I live, and shaped our conversations into a chapter outline.
We spoke at length several times on the phone over the course of the next months. I also spoke to Eniola’s mother, Sileola, who provided invaluable insight into her early years and Nigerian roots. These conversations formed the basis for an initial draft of the book.

Eniola then really made the book her own, adding a large amount of written material which we then worked into the final prose. I’m grateful to Eniola for her engagement, interest and commitment, which ensured the writing process was always a genuine collaboration.

4. Was there anything unexpected that you learnt about Eniola or any particular stories that surprised you or that you really connected with?

Being involved in the project taught me a great deal about Eniola and her character and I came away from it with great respect for her courage, honesty, and conviction.

There were a few things about Eniola’s story that resonated with my life. As a Brit living in Germany, I know about feeling split between two places, as Eniola has at times felt torn between Britain and Nigeria.

Eniola was also keen to emphasize her humble beginnings on an estate in Birmingham and it helped that I had also lived in the city for several years in my early twenties. Fond memories of trudging through rainy red-brick streets there helped with drafting the early chapters.

5. Eniola is one of England’s top ten most capped female players and similarly in terms of goals, as well as having an incredible club career, how would you sum up her contribution on the pitch?

Eniola’s pace and ability to take on defenders are part of what made her one of the best strikers of her generation. In the book we examine the psychology of being a striker and how Eniola struggled with the crushing pressure to score from teammates, coaches, and fans, particularly in the social media age.

We tell the story of how Eniola learned to channel an inner sense of freedom on the pitch, allowing her to perform under pressure, score goals, and deliver her team their win. Coming to the story as a football outsider, it was fascinating to delve into those psychological aspects of the game.

6. Away from the pitch, Eniola has been at the centre of a lot of examination and developments in not only the women’s game but the culture around football and its governance, how would you sum up her contribution off the pitch?

The women’s game has come on lightyears since Eniola first started playing football as a child. Her career spanned a thrilling period of increased professionalisation. Eniola not only witnessed that rise – and all the setbacks along the way – she was also instrumental in driving wage negotiations forward for female England players.

7. Eniola not only managed to excel on the pitch but also achieved a first-class law degree alongside her football, how impressed are you by her ability to juggle these demands and whilst a positive reflection on Eniola herself, does it still suggest there’s a long way for the women’s game to go that players can see football as a sole career?

Eniola is a driven person who holds herself to high standards. That’s what made her able to simultaneously play for England at a World Cup and study for a law degree. Meeting Eniola, and getting a sense of her determination, her achievements begin to make more sense.

Things have by all accounts changed a lot since Eniola was a teen choosing to pursue a second career alongside football. Top-flight female players – in England at least – now have a much better chance of earning a reasonable living as full time footballers.

8. Since the publication of the book, Eniola has hung up her boots but she’s stayed around football, how important is it, do you think, that not only Eniola but other female players continue to have an active role in the development of the game?

Very. Eniola’s story shows change is not just handed down from above. It comes when it is pushed for by players themselves. Women’s teams all over the world are actively driving the conversation forward, and there is no reason that should stop on retirement. I was happy for Eniola when she took on the role of Sporting Director at Aston Villa WFC earlier this year.

9. What are you most proud of with this book?

The last part of the book, which deals with Eniola’s time playing under former England coach Mark Sampson, the accusations of racial discrimination she brought against him and the ensuing mess made of her complaint by the FA, were always going to be very important in setting the record straight. I think we achieved that.

10. And finally, what three words would you use to sum up Eniola Aluko?

Courageous, determined, compassionate.

Interview with Dean Eldredge, Ghostwriter of Emile Heskey’s Autobiography, ‘Even Heskey Scored’

July 5, 2020

One of fourteen players who has scored more than 100 Premier League goals and provided more than fifty assists, Emile Heskey proved himself throughout his football career. Dean Eldredge, who has previously ghostwritten the autobiographies of Neil Back and Darius Vasell, sat down with the former Leicester marksman to ghostwrite his autobiography.

1. Congratulations on being involved in Even Heskey Scored, which has been nominated for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards Autobiography of the Year, in your role as ghostwriter, can you tell us how you came to be involved as ghostwriter on the book?

Thank you. We’re delighted and humbled to have made the shortlist alongside such prominent names and excellent books. I was actively looking for the next project and I met with Emile’s media guy, Ade Danes, to discuss the possibility of doing something. He introduced me to Emile and then I spoke to Paul and Jane at Pitch Publishing, who I’d worked with before, and we’re grateful to them for their support. It all seemed to come together quite quickly.

2. How closely had you followed Emile’s career before you began the project? Did you have any preconceptions before you started on the book and were there any particular stories or issues you really wanted to address?

I would say very closely, without wanting to sound like a stalker. We went to the same primary school, Linden, in Evington, Leicester, although he was five years or so older than me. I had a season-ticket at Leicester City from an early age, and watched him burst in to the side and then tear teams apart. He was so crucial to the way Martin O’Neill’s team played, and I think people forget that he was just a kid, having to lead the line against experienced Premier League defenders.

I tried to go in to the project open-minded, wanting Emile to tell his story and get things off his chest, but I was fascinated by the way he’d been portrayed in the media, almost as a scapegoat within the England side, and how that had affected him.

3. Can you tell us a bit about the actual process of working with Emile to get the material for the book?

We would meet every week or so, at his home, near to Manchester Airport, and spend two or three hours discussing a particular time in his career. I’d outline this over email in advance, and Emile would look back at that period in his life. We’d watch videos of his games and interviews on YouTube, and the memories would come flooding back. I think Emile would admit that he’s not someone who looks back on his career without being prompted, and he’s not your typical after-dinner speaker, but we both enjoyed the process. I’d drive home and transcribe the recordings, send a draft over for his approval, and then after amends, I’d add that to the master copy for final review before publication.

4. Was there anything unexpected that you learnt about Emile or any particular stories that surprised you or that you really connected with?

He opened up on being homesick and lonely when he first moved to Liverpool. At that time, people felt less comfortable talking about personal issues like that. Why would a famous, rich, young footballer feel down in any way? It was interesting to listen to Emile talk through that period in his life, and analyse whether he felt he was suffering from depression or not. I think the process was cathartic, and I think we can all relate to that kind of emotion at some time in our lives.

Emile’s chapter on racism, the impact of Brexit, the power that footballers are regaining through having their own, undiluted voice heard through social media, was inspiring too. He spoke from the heart and that chapter wasn’t in the original plan. We met once in Leicester as he had a meeting at the football club and over lunch after a chapter interview, we got chatting about the issue of racism in football and society. He spoke with such authenticity and eloquence. It wasn’t an interview, more like two people chatting in the pub, but at the end of the conversation I asked him if he’d be willing to go on record with this. He didn’t hesitate and he should be proud for speaking out.

5. Can you tell us a little about the title of the book and who came up with it?

I guess you can credit the England fans with that one, initially. We had a list of potential titles, but it was always going to be this one. In my opinion, the chant is meant in a jokey sense and Emile has a sound sense of humour and he decided to own it. His cheeky look up to the title on the cover is the great work of the photographer, Stuart Thomas and the designer, Duncan Olner. We wanted something that fit with Emile’s personality. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and he has a thick skin to have put up with the stick over the years. I couldn’t imagine the title being anything else, and it gives me great pride to see it on the shelves.

6. In many ways, Emile has often been something of an unsung hero, yet he is just one of fourteen players who has scored more than 100 Premier League goals and provided more than fifty assists, sharing the rostrum with icons of the Premier League era including Didier Drogba, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard and Thierry Henry, why do you think he’s perhaps less acknowledged than some of the other greats of the Premier League?

His perceived lack of goals for England and the press targeting him is the most likely cause for this. The tabloids were brutal back then, and they went after anyone and anything. Ask any of his teammates though, from Leicester to Liverpool, to England, right through his career, he did the underappreciated work; holding up the ball, bringing others in to play, occupying defenders, winning free-kicks, and assisting goals. Michael Owen was a lethal finisher, but he is the first to point out just how important Emile was for him.

7. Emile was in many ways the ideal strike partner, but in recent times football has somewhat moved away from traditional two up top, how do you think Emile would have fit into a modern team and who do you think would be his ideal strike partner now?

His unselfish nature and versatility to play out wide, as a lone striker, or in a front two, would be valued by managers and players alike in today’s game. As a Leicester fan, I would have loved to have seen him link up with Jamie Vardy. The pace and power of them, and Emile’s natural inclination to help provide for others would have suited Jamie perfectly. They would have been a real handful for defenders. At his prime, which was probably towards the end of his time at Leicester and his first couple of seasons at Liverpool, no defender wanted to face him.

8. Emile speaks with great perception and wisdom on some of the issues footballers face, touching on isolation for overseas players and boredom with youngsters, do you think there’s enough understanding or empathy for the difficulties footballers face as human beings?

I don’t, and I never have, but it is getting better, slowly over time. It’s easy to peddle the line, ‘what have they got to be upset about? On that money, I’d never be depressed.’ Break it down, and behind all the money, the fame, the status, they are just young lads, often from working-class backgrounds, thrown in to a surreal world that the vast majority of us never see. It’s a lot to take on board and that is going to eat away at your emotions. Once that happens, it can affect the way you live, what you eat, where you go, your mood around friends and family, and ultimately, your performance on the pitch. Clubs offer much more support than in Emile’s day, as players are seen as key assets now, so their well-being is valued much higher than in the past.

I had a small taste, indirectly, of the experience of fame and attention recently. I accompanied our client, Nigel Pearson, for an appearance he made on the BBC for a live FA Cup tie before the lockdown. He was returning to Hillsborough, to watch his former club Sheffield Wednesday take on Manchester City. He’d just led Watford to a 3-0 win over Liverpool, and he is adored on the blue side of Sheffield. As he got out of the car, he was mobbed by people for autographs and photos. One after the other, it was relentless. Obviously, he had no problem with that, and posed for as many as he could, chatting to people along the way, but we needed to get him in to the stadium to avoid being late for his appearance. Imagine turning up to work, and being greeted by people, one after the other like that. I’m not saying it’s unpleasant, it’s flattering, but it’s just one of many alien concepts that footballers have to adapt to.

9. We can’t ignore the fact that we all had to get used to a world without sport, what have you particularly missed and are there any particular sporting events you are looking forward to?

I’ve missed football. I’ve missed attending Leicester City games with my Dad and my friends, Gin, Kevin, Paul and David, and I’ve been enjoying attending Watford games to offer my support to Nigel (Pearson) and Craig Shakespeare, as they have worked wonders at Vicarage Road. It will be nerve-wracking watching those games on television. I also had tickets for the Edgbaston test match between England and West Indies with my brother, Phil and my friends. I try to get to a test match every summer, so it’s a shame to miss that. I’m glad sport is returning, but sorry that supporters aren’t. Let’s hope the return is safe.

10. What are you most proud of with this book?

That people have read it, that judges have shortlisted it, that the reviews have been positive are all things to be proud of. Most of all though, that Emile is happy with it. It’s his book, not mine, and as a ghostwriter, it’s crucial to remember that. You are telling their story, not the version of their story that you want to write.

11. Imagine if you will a world where we can all have dinner parties, which four sporting greats past or present would be invited?

I’ve been obsessed with the role of the football manager from a very young age and I’m fortunate enough to work with managers in my role as an agent and publicist. I’ll go with that theme and select the following bosses: Bobby Robson, Brian Clough, Terry Venables and Martin O’Neill. Robson seemed like such a gentleman and I’d be fascinated by his stories from his time in charge of England, and how close he came to winning the World Cup in Italia ’90. Clough was surely the most talented manager of his generation, and his personality was unique to say the least. Venables was in charge for Euro ’96, my favourite ever tournament and like Robson, managed abroad, namely with Barcelona. How we didn’t win the Euros under him, I’ll never know, and O’Neill, I’m fortunate enough to have met, as he kindly wrote the foreword for Emile’s book. He is highly intelligent, articulate and I was captivated by him in the hour or so we spent together. He transformed Leicester City in the 1990s and as those who know me will confirm, I never get bored of talking about that team and that era.

12. And finally, what three words would you use to sum up Emile Heskey?

Authentic, humble, thoughtful.

Interview with Richard Gibson, Ghostwriter of Ben Stokes’ Autobiography ‘On Fire’

July 5, 2020

Ben Stokes On Fire

Awarded the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for Best Cricketer of the Year, the Wisden Leading Cricketer in the World, as well as BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Ben Stokes shot to international icon last year. Having worked together on his autobiography, Firestarter, he once again joined forces with Richard Gibson to share the story of one unforgettable summer.

1. Congratulations on being involved in On Fire, which has been nominated for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards Autobiography of the Year, in your role as ghostwriter, can you tell us how you came to be involved as ghostwriter on the book?

I previously wrote a book with Ben, Firestarter, four years ago in 2016, so I guess it was pretty natural for me to do this one as well.

2. How closely had you followed Ben’s career before you began the project? Did you have any preconceptions before you started on the book and were there any particular stories or issues you really wanted to address?

Obviously I worked on that previous project and I also cover the England team all the time in my day job for The Daily Mail so I’ve covered Ben’s career very closely. That previous book meant that I’ve known everything Ben’s been doing for the last five to six years or even longer. But I was quite excited about this book because, obviously, it was very much based on what happened last year, which I think most people will have seen on television or listened to on the radio with Ben’s extraordinary performances, so it was very much just about last summer and I was excited to hear his version of how things went and how they developed in his own mind.

3. Can you tell us a bit about the actual process of working with Ben to get the material for the book?

Ben and I are used to working together so we’d get together, probably ten to a dozen times, at his house or if England were playing matches around the country, we’d get together at hotels, spend time in his room, just chatting, me interviewing him and asking him questions.

4. Was there anything unexpected that you learnt about Ben or any particular stories that surprised you or that you really connected with?

I’ve known a lot of the stuff that has gone on in Ben’s career, but one thing I was quite surprised by was how matter-of-fact and how clinical he was as a thinker when he played the innings of his life at Headingley. I was surprised at just how he went about doing that in terms of keeping calm, so I guess that was surprising and quite revealing in terms of the way he went about piecing together that innings.

5. For many people, cricket fans and non-cricket fans alike, the summer of 2019 will stay in their memories forever, a sort of I was there when England won the World Cup moment. Can you share your own recollections of that summer of cricket and how perhaps your view of Ben changed?

I was at the World Cup Final and that was just extraordinary, just because of the drama of it – you couldn’t make it up. Just when you thought the match was going one way, it went the other and everyone was gripped for the whole time. I think that summed up a lot of the summer. And in terms of Ben, I just thought he was a really good cricketer, a really brilliant cricketer in fact, before, but somehow last summer made me think he may not actually be human, some of the stuff he was doing was just extraordinary – certainly there was a godlike presence about him and his cricket last year.

6. After the 2016 T20 World Cup loss to West Indies when Ben played a pivotal role in that final, how impressed have you been with Ben’s growth and development as a player and how did that manifest in the World Cup Final on 14th July?

I think before, Ben very much just played cricket and he was kind of a reactionary player, very instinctive, and he would just play off the cuff, whereas definitely in that four-year period he has become more able to read game situations, to manage the moments, to sniff the danger when he’s batting, to realise the pitfalls, all those kinds of things, and thrive. He’s definitely learnt as a cricketer. I know where he fell down in 2016 was with his bowling, but I just think he’s just better now at analysing and the best players can do that, they can see what’s coming before it happens, so I think that’s the most significant development.

7. It says a lot about Ben’s success last year that the book solely focuses on one summer, but how defining do you think that period will be in Ben’s career?

I think it was the summer that defined Ben. He will have to do something pretty extraordinary for him not to be forever linked and defined by 2019!

8. Ben comes across as a very modest figure in the book, quick to praise his teammates and share the success, but how integral is Ben to England cricket now and going forward?

I think he is a really good role model for the team in his attitude. If he could guarantee that the team wins the game, he’d happily get nought, well, I say happily… But he would rather get nought and have no wickets for fifty runs and the team win than him score a hundred and the team lose, but that’s the kind of attitude a number of the England side have and that’s the way they’ve developed the team ethos. Ben and Joe Root and Eoin Morgan – the senior players – have all brought into those values, this team value, so it feels pretty natural, it’s not like it’s forced. For instance when some people say it’s all about the team and it’s only partly believable, whereas with Ben, the more time you spend with him, the more you realise that’s all it’s about for him, he wants to win and be part of that win, and if he can contribute, that’s great, but the main thing is getting the victory

9. What are you most proud of with this book?

Just being a part of it. Ben was the sports star of last year – I don’t think he really had a rival in that regard – so to work with Britain’s most successful, recognised sportsman is an honour.

10. We can’t ignore the fact that we all had to get used to a world without sport, what have you particularly missed and are there any particular sporting events you are looking forward to?

Getting cricket back! It’s obviously been a major miss for everybody, so I’d just like to see cricket back in a safe environment.

11. Imagine if you will a world where we can all have dinner parties, which four sporting greats past or present would be invited?

Oh my goodness! I’d have to have Muhammad Ali because I think he’d keep things lively. I’ve got to be careful because I’ll get too biased and I’ll end up having footballers that I associate with my team. So I’ve got to think about the wider arena. I’d have Steve Waugh because he was the player I followed when I was a kid and I enjoyed his attitude, so I’d like to pick his brain. I’d definitely have a footballer; football’s a major thing for me, so I’m trying to think who I’d have from the world of football… Paul Gascoigne, I’ll have him to spice it up a bit. And the final one I would have would be Simone Biles, the gymnast, because I think she’s got a really interesting back story.

12. And finally, what three words would you use to sum up Ben Stokes?

Loyal. Aggressive. Winner.

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020 Shortlist Announced

June 17, 2020

Sports Book Awards Shortlist 2020

Eddie Jones and Warren Gatland renew an old rivalry at The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020

Sporting Legends and Leaders dominate 2020 Shortlist as nominations are announced

England Rugby coach Eddie Jones’s My Life and Rugby and recently re-appointed British Lions coach Warren Gatland’s Pride and Passion will renew an old rivalry as they compete for the Rugby Writers Book of the Year at The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020. Also shortlisted is David Beresford’s beautiful book Brothers in Arms, an account of Rugby, life & friendship in France, up against Welsh Legend Sam Warburton’s personal exploration, Open Side. In a strong year for Wales, Ross Harries tremendous Behind the Dragon delivers an excellent history of Welsh Rugby. Enigmatic Welsh international Glenn Webbe’s entertaining autobiography, Glenn Webbe: The Gloves are Off, concludes the shortlist.

Eddie Jones reflected on his nomination, commenting:
“I am so pleased that our book has been nominated for Rugby Book of the Year at The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020. I’d like to wish all the other books in the shortlist the best, and whoever wins, I’m sure it will be a just result. Thank you for the nomination.”

The Football Book of the Year award, sponsored for the first time by CLOC Printing, features six outstanding books, selected once again by the Football Writers’ Association. Their final list includes David Tossell’s Natural, a revealing and comprehensive biography of one of England’s most loved footballers, Jimmy Greaves. Tobias Jones delves into a facet of Italian football’s subculture, examining the sinister side of fandom in Ultra. Daniel Fieldsend’s Locãl looks at the uniquely intertwined relationship between Liverpudlians and their city and football club. Jonathan Wilson’s excellently researched assessment of how Hungarian football in the 1950s shaped the modern game, The Names Heard Long Ago, is up against Leo Moynihan’s The Three Kings, tracking the life and careers of three of the greatest ever managers, Stein, Shankly & Busby, undoubtedly all architects of the modern game. Steven Scragg pays homage to the European Cup Winners’ Cup with A Tournament Frozen In Time, charting its distinct history through the unique, eccentric stories it created.

The Telegraph Sports Autobiography of the Year shortlist was revealed in May, and features a diverse group of sports people, including world heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, World Cup-winning cricket hero Ben Stokes and England’s leading all time wicket taker James Anderson, England footballing-legend Eniola Aluko, the extrovert racing driver Jason Plato, as well as former Liverpool and England footballers Michael Owen and Emile Heskey.

Ben Stokes, who renews his playing career with England in July said:
“I’m delighted to be shortlisted for the Sports Autobiography of the Year Award at The Telegraph Sports Book of the Year Awards 2020, and in such fantastic company.”

The Children’s Sports Book of the Year award, in partnership with our inspirational charity of choice National Literacy Trust, reflects the growing strength and importance of the genre. BBC broadcaster, Clare Balding’s The Racehorse Who Learned to Dance, illustrated by Tony Ross, leads a group that includes Olympic Cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy and Joanna Nadins’ Flying Fergus 10:The Photo Finish, Illustrated by Clare Elsom, and former England women’s football captain Casey Stoney’s, Changing the Game. Paralympian Gold medal winner Danielle Brown and nine year old Nathan Kai’s Be Your Best Self features alongside David Barrow’s The Big Race. Matt Oldfield, author of the popular Ultimate Football Heroes series, features with Unbelievable Football, with Alex Bellos & Ben Lyttle’s popular series, Football School Season 4, illustrated by Spike Gerrell completing the inaugural shortlist.

Clare Balding, supporter of the National Literacy Trust and nominated for the Children’s Sports Book of the Year reflected:
“It’s great to use the power of sport to connect with kids all over the world. Some reluctant readers will pick up a book for the first time because it’s about football or horses or bikes and that’s their passion. I’m pleased to see The Telegraph Sports Book Awards team up with the National Literary Trust to recognise this with a category for children’s books. I’m very proud to be on the list of nominees, along with some outstanding titles which share the joy of sport and the many ways in which it can help us through life.”

The Cricket Book of the Year, sponsored by Sir Tim Rice and the Heartaches, features England’s all-time leading run scorer, Sir Alastair Cook’s The Autobiography, pitted against Duncan Hamilton’s fascinating biography of Neville Cardus, The Great Romantic. The hard-hitting England batsman Robin Smith’s, The Judge, competes alongside the founder of the Professional Cricketers’ Association Fred Rumsey, Sense of Humour, Sense of Justice. Finally, Zimbabwe wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu’s, Keeper of Faith, and Tim Wigmore and Freddie Wilde’s account of the T20 revolution, Cricket 2.0 complete the shortlist.

The Pinsent Masons International Autobiography category includes Manchester United and Spanish International Juan Mata’s story in Suddenly A Footballer – My Story, alongside Casey Legler’s God Speed, an emotional journey charting her life as an Olympic swimmer. Former All Black captain Kieran Read’s Straight 8 appears alongside former Gloucestershire cricketing all-rounder Franklyn Stephenson’s My Song Shall Be Cricket and Arsenal and German defender Per Mertesacker’s Big Friendly German. 

This year’s General Outstanding Sports Writing award is arguably the strongest list compiled to date, with each book transcending sport; uncovering incredible, revealing and heart-breaking stories in equal measure. Rick Reilly uses the stories of Donald Trump’s golf partners to help explain the controversial President in Commander in Cheat. Olympic rower Annie Vernon’s Mind Games, an exploration of the psychology of elite sport, goes up against Mind Game, Michael Calvin & Thomas Bjorns’ investigation into the mind of the professional golfer. Donald McRae’s inspirational story In Sunshine or in Shadow assesses boxing’s role in healing the sectarian divide during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Andy Woodward shares his harrowing story in Position of Trust, a trust shattered at the hands of convicted sex offender Barry Bennell, and Jonathan Rice tells the fascinating story behind a painting of Kent v Lancashire in 1906 with Stories of Cricket’s Finest Painting.

The Biography shortlist covers a variety of sports, starting with Mark Synnott’s account of Alex Honnold’s adventurous life, including his attempt at The Impossible Climb, a free solo ascent of El Capitan. Unbreakable by Richard Askwith is a story of endurance and defiance, focusing on the inspirational life of a Czech countess and her perilous journey to taking part in a prestigious steeplechase. Lofty by Matt Clough assesses the career and influence of England footballing legend Nat Lofthouse, David Tossell reveals the trials and tribulations of another England football star in Natural, his biography of Jimmy Greaves, and Monarch of the Green, Stephen Proctor’s excellently researched history of golf’s first superstar, Young Tom Morris, concludes the shortlist.

The Illustrated Sports Book of the Year features seven beautiful books ranging from motorsport to tennis, Tottenham Football Club to international Sailing. The list includes Yellow Jersey by Frédérique Galametz and Philippe Bouvet, More to Gain than Just the Game by Dave Courteen, Lap of Honour by Tim Hain, An A to Z of Football Collectibles by Carl Wilkes, A Life Behind the Lens by Richard Pelham, SailGP: Sailing Redefined by the team at SailGP, and last but not least Destination Tottenham collated by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

The Cycling Book of the Year, sponsored by VAARU Cycles for the first time, shortlists The Cycling Podcast’s The Grand Tour Diaries, Emily Chappell’s Where There’s a Will, Carlton Kirby’s Magic Spanner, The Beast, the Emperor and the Milkman by Harry Pearson, The Yellow Jersey by Peter Cossins, and Riding in the Zone Rouge by Tom Isitt.

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020 winners will be digitally announced on July 15th. The online announcement will replace the traditional celebration at Lord’s Cricket Ground.



Telegraph Sports Book Awards winners to be announced virtually on July 15th!

May 27, 2020

The Sports Book Awards confirm new schedule for 2020 campaign, with online winners announcement to replace the traditional celebration at Lords Cricket Ground!

The Directors of The Telegraph Sports Book Awards recently made the difficult decision to replace the delayed September winners’ event with an online winners’ announcement on July 15th. In what is an incredibly difficult time for everyone, we have adjusted this years campaign to ensure all interested parties continue to benefit from the association!

As the easing of restrictions on staging live events appears someway off, we feel that a focused campaign for the shortlisted books followed by a digital announcement will secure excellent opportunities for exposure, driving sales at a time when reading about sports and our sport stars is a central focus for all sports fans. With retailers set to re-open from June 15th, we will announce all our shortlists on June 17th, a few days ahead of Father’s Day!

We will be sending out a note to all shortlisted publishers in the next couple of days with further information about the promotional campaign and all logistical requirements.

We have announced the shortlist for the Autobiography of the Year awards today to kick-start the campaign ahead of revealing all remaining categories on June 17th. Only a couple of hours into the announcement, the awards has secured a promotional slot on BBC Breakfast, in addition to a feature piece in The Telegraph, coverage on Sky Sports & and extensive social media engagement from our most-loved sports stars.

Autobiography of the Year 2020 Shortlist Announced!

May 27, 2020

Autobiography of the Year shortlist announced for The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020

Tyson Fury and Ben Stokes among those shortlisted for prestigious annual award

Tyson Fury’s BEHIND THE MASK and Ben Stokes ON FIRE head a strong list of nominees for the Autobiography of the Year, to be awarded at The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020.

Tyson Fury’s boxing comeback is undoubtedly one of the greatest in the sport’s history. Fury’s book is an unflinching autobiography from arguably the greatest boxer of our times, a man who has also demonstrated strength of a very different kind in conquering his inner demons.

ON FIRE by Ben Stokes is a brand new book that tells the story of England’s Cricket World Cup Triumph, as well as last year’s momentous Ashes Test series. It is the ultimate insider’s account of the most nerve shredding, but riveting three and a half months in English cricketing history.

Stokes commenting on his nomination said: “I’m delighted to be short listed for the Autobiography Award at the 2020 Telegraph Sports Book of the Year Awards and in such fantastic company!”

Stokes’s England colleague James Anderson also makes the short list for the first time with BOWL. SLEEP. REPEAT. Anderson is England’s record wicket taker and speaks openly and forthrightly about those he has played with and against, outlining his thoughts on some of the biggest issues in the game today.

Eniola Aluko’s THEY DON’T TEACH THIS also made the long list for the much-coveted William Hill Sports Book of the Year, it’s a hard-hitting account about the England footballer capped 102 times for her country. The book explores themes of dual nationality and identity, race and institutional prejudice failure and success.

Michael Owen is the last English footballer to win the Ballon d’Or and one of only six British players to claim the prestigious award alongside Kevin Keegan, George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law and Sir Stanley Matthews. REBOOT chronicles the life of one of the most talented footballers of the modern era, in a career that has always divided opinion. It is a brutally honest book that attempts to put the record straight on a number of contentious events linked to the Strikers career.

Owen’s one-time forward partner for Liverpool and England is also shortlisted for EVEN HESKEY SCORED, the brisk story of a largely unsung player loved by his team mates, who overcame fierce criticism to live the football dream. It is a compelling read, concluding thoughtfully that racism remains a blind spot for many people.

To complete the 2020 short list is Jason Plato’s HOW NOT TO BE A PROFESSIONAL RACING DRIVER. Plato is a two-time championship winning and record-breaking racing driver who reveals all in a no-holds-barred account of his stellar career and occasionally riotous personal life.

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards are judged by an outstanding group of sports celebrities, broadcasters and journalists. The judging panels for 2020 include: Louise Minchin, Christine Ohuruogu, Simon Halliday, Sir Tim Rice, The Rugby Writers Association, Jill Douglas, Simon Brotherton, Jacquie Beltrao, Adam Smith, Brian Moore, Darren Gough, The Football Writers Association and Rishi Persad.

The full shortlists for the awards will be announced on June 17th 2020, where we reveal the shortlistees for the remaining nine categories, including the inaugural Children’s Sports Book of the Year, in partnership with the awards charity partner, The National Literacy Trust.

All category winners, including the Autobiography of the Year, will be announced at the 18th edition of The Telegraph Sports Book Awards. Unfortunately, the annual black-tie ceremony at Lords Cricket is just not feasible in the current climate, so for the first time, it will be a digital affair, with the announcement set to take place on July 15th. All remaining shortlist categories will also be revealed on June 17th, so keep your eyes peeled!

Autobiography of the Year Shortlist 2020

They Don’t Teach This by Eni Aluko (Yellow Jersey)

Bowl. Sleep. Repeat by James Anderson (Octopus Books)

Behind the Mask by Tyson Fury (Century)

Reboot by Michael Owen (Reach Sport)

How Not to be a Professional Racing Driver by Jason Plato (Michael Joseph)

Even Heskey Scored by Emile Heskey (Pitch Publishing)

On Fire by Ben Stokes (Headline)


The 2020 event is the 18th annual awards campaign, previous winners of the Autobiography award include:

2019 – Paul Ferris
2018 – Martine Wright
2017 – Joey Barton
2016 – Max Mosley
2015 – Gareth Thomas
2014 – Jimmy Connors
2013 – David Walsh (combined with biography award)
2012 – Matt Hampson (combined with biography award)
2011 – Brian Moore
2010 – Andre Agassi
2009 – Paul Canonville
2008 – Bobby Charlton
2007 – Paul McGrath
2006 – Frank Bruno
2005 – Nasser Hussain
2004 – Gareth Southgate & Andy Woodman
2003 – Niall Quinn