Footballers are often remembered for more than their on-field abilities and a new book, released in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, celebrates some of most iconic characters that have helped make the game so special.
Portrait of an Icon is a study of 58 of the greatest names from football’s recent history and includes a foreword by Jamie Carragher. The first print run sold out in just 15 hours and has attracted support from legends within the game including Rafa Benitez and Marco van Basten.
Written by Daniel Storey, each ‘portrait’ provides insight into more than mere football achievements.
All proceeds from the book are going to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and over £30,000 has been raised to date. Daniel says Sir Bobby is the perfect example of a footballer whose CV makes up a mere fraction of his cultural impact.
Daniel, who lives near Nottingham but has family in the North East, says: “Everyone has their own opinions of what makes an iconic footballer. It’s that ‘special something’ in addition to their on-field talents.
The book has attracted support from football legends including Newcastle United manager, Rafa Benitez.
“Sir Bobby for me is the epitome of that. Ask anyone about him and the first thing they mention is not football, it’s his personality. They’ll tell you how they feel about him or about the time they met him instead.
“It’s not that his great achievements in football weren’t important, it’s just that he means more than that. He was a man who understood his role and the responsibilities that went along with it. And he was unchanged by it all.”
Footballers and managers included in the book include Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Diego Maradona, Brian Clough and Lionel Messi.
With only limited space, the inclusion and omission of certain footballers has provoked some discussion. It is something that Daniel welcomes and, he believes, is part of the book’s appeal.
Author of Portrait of an Icon, Daniel Storey
Daniel adds: “I have a list as long as my arm of the players and managers who aren’t included but might have been. The game is full of interesting people.
“Footballers are human and I think that’s something we can forget when watching high-pressure matches. Ireland international Paul McGrath, for instance, is included in the book, not because of his talent, but because of his searing honesty and bravery in the face of addiction and mental illness.
“One of the nicest things about Portrait of an Icon has been hearing from people who said they questioned the inclusion of a certain person, then read their story and found a new side to them that they hadn’t expected. That’s been fulfilling to me as a writer and hope it means I’ve achieved my ambition to say something new and interesting to read.”
Portrait of an Icon includes stunning artwork from talented illustrators who gave up their time and work to support the project for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, and has been published by Ockley Books. The publishers have also kindly agreed to take on the project at their own cost to ensure the maximum possible money goes to the Foundation.
Daniel chose the charity because of the work it supports to find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer, and because Sir Bobby was a local hero of his late grandfather.
Daniel adds: “I’d written many of these pieces for Football365 and it was never my intention to be paid for them twice.
“I wanted to create a book that people would enjoy owning and reading and which also made a significant donation to an extremely worthwhile cause. I’m absolutely thrilled by how well sales are going and how much money we’ve already been able to donate to Sir Bobby’s charity. I’m grateful to everyone who has bought a copy.”
Portrait of an Icon costs £13.99 with all proceeds (£10 per book) going to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. It is only available via www.portraitofanicon.co.uk.
Daniel Storey is the deputy editor of Football365.com and a freelance football writer published by the Independent, Unibet, The Set Pieces and others. He was the winner of the 2016 Football Supporters’ Federation Writer of the Year award. This is his first book.