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Football Manager stole my life: 20 years of beautiful obsession

He was revered by millions of gamers worldwide for his goal scoring devastation but if you’ve never played Championship Manager (now known as Football Manager) then chances are you've never heard of Tonton Zola Moukoko.

Once a promising central midfielder from Derby County’s academy, he was tipped to be greater than either Pele or Maradona.

Unfortunately for Moukoko, the dizzying heights of success that Championship Manager predicted never came true and he now plays for third division Swedish side Atlantis F.C, but to this day he still gets calls from CM fans telling him how good he was on their game and asking him what went wrong. Such is the enthusiasm and dedication of the games fan base.

It’s to the credit of the series' creators Sega Interactive that a computer game has become such a part of football culture with players talking about their team's journeys, bloggers sharing their accounts with others online and even real life footballers failing to cope with their in-game characters.

With Football Manager celebrating its 20th Anniversary later this year, the good people at Backpage Press are releasing the appropriately titled 'Football Manager Stole My Life: 20 years of beautiful obsession' which brings together all the tales of in-game icons like Moukoko, stories from dedicated gamers and the legacy forged by a game that has reached cult status among football fans.

Whilst the book may seem aimed at an audience of addicted gamers, Neil White, one of the book's three authors, assures us it isn't.

He said: “The book is not so much geeky as it is about the culture of football and the Football Manager games. Many people who play the games don't see themselves as gamers but just football fans.”

Nostalgia

For some of those football fans, their experience with Football Manager will have stretched over the two decades. It is those veteran fans Neil hopes to attract: “Really the book is aimed at people who played the game during that period. It might be that during that time there's people who have played the game for 10-15 years, looking for a bit of nostalgia.”

But it's not just nostalgia the book hopes to invoke in readers. With a section dedicated to players' experiences and accounts, there will be plenty of stories to make you laugh and keep you entertained, even if you're losing a League Cup final.

Neil tells us of how “one guy took advantage of his parents being on holiday to hook his laptop up to the big screen TV".

He then donned a suit because he had a big European Cup final coming up and was playing with the music and crowd at full blast and with every kick of the ball he getting increasing agitated and shouting loudly.

“Obviously this caused alarm for next door and eventually the guy heard a very loud knocking at the door and answered it only to see that the police had been called over by his elderly next door neighbours, who had been worried that there was a break-in", White added.

However it's not just funny stories that Football Manager has given to some people, others have been inspired by the game and gone into careers in football because of it.

Inspiration

Fellow authors Iain Macintosh of The New Paper and Irish Examiner, and Kenny Millar of The Sunday Post, both got into sports writing because of their love for the old Championship Manager games.

Even former Chelsea manager Andre-Villas Boas got into tactics and management because of his love of the series.

Neil said: “Hopefully we'll be able to get to speak to AVB soon. Unfortunately after being sacked I don't think he's in any mood to talk about Football Manager!”

The legacy Sega Interactive and Football Manager has left on football fans spreads across the whole world and with several contributions from fans, professional players and even celebrities there'll be plenty to digest just in time for the release of Football Manager 2013 later this year.

With the book scheduled for release later this summer, there's still plenty of time to share your love and experiences of the games with Backpage Press and get your stories printed.

'Football Manager Stole My Life' looks set to be a humorous and insightful read for any FM anoraks out there looking to what others have achieved in their in-game careers or to see how far a virtual knowledge of tactics, strategies and players can take you in a real life job in football.

Either way, it sounds like it'll be a great read.

'Football Manager Stole My Life: 20 years of Obsession' will be available August later this year at all manager retailers and online at Backpage Press.

By Mick Smith

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