“I Am Sam” by James Durose-Rayner
Soccer, Football (English), fiction, history
February 10, 2015
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Jon Sammels was considered a tragic figure in the 1960’s and early 1970’s English Premier League soccer, a tremendously talented player who was left off the 1970 World Cup team for England. His story is brought back to life by a television producer who must make a documentary as part of his job. Sammels’ story as well as that of the fictional “Mr. Arsenal” (named for his favorite English Premier team) is told in this entertaining book by James Durose-Rayner.
While initially the reader will believe he or she will be reading a biography of Sammels, it becomes clear early in the book that the story is really about Mr. Arsenal. He can be considered a tragic figure himself, as he is about to divorce his wife, will break up with his girlfriend and will get another woman pregnant. How this part of the book plays out was what grabbed my attention in this novel and frankly, I felt his story was much more interesting than that of Sammels.
This is not to criticize Durose-Rayner’s writing about Sammels, done through the eyes of Mr. Arsenal as he does the research on “Sammy” to produce his documentary. The writing about not only Sammy but the entire political scene of soccer at that time is top-notch and fans will really enjoy the vivid descriptions of Sammy’s spectacular plays and goals while Mr. Arsenal tries to not only do his job but make sense of his personal life as well.
No matter which part grabs your attention – the soap opera life of Mr. Arsenal or the great story of Sammy – this book is a fun read that will require a considerable amount of time to complete. However, it is well worth that time, especially if the reader wants to learn about a player who is sadly forgotten when the discussion revolves around great English soccer players.
I wish to thank the author and Authoright for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Pace of the book:
As the focus of my reading switched from the soccer and Sammy to the soap opera story, I enjoyed the book much more than I would have by simply reading it to learn about Samuels’ career.
Do I recommend?
Fans of English soccer will enjoy this story as well as readers who just want to be entertained with the story of a man trying to make sense of his life.