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Saved

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Member Reviews

Football players abuse of alcohol has a long and unfortunate history, whether it’s Booby Moore (described by Matt Dickinson in his biography of Moore as “the world’s smartest, neatest, tidiest drunk”) or others like Jimmy Greaves and George Best whose problems were openly acknowledged. The reach of gambling addiction into the game is a more recent revelation, with ex players such as Paul Merson, Keith Gillespie and John Hartson speaking about the damage it has done to them. Although Shilton had admitted gambling problems in the past, the primary reason for writing “Saved” was to tell the story of how he finally faced into a 45 year gambling addiction and became sober.

A chance meeting in 2012 with Steph, the woman who would become Shilton’s second wife turned out to be the catalyst for his sobriety. It’s a positive story albeit told with some repetition as they each take turns, a chapter at a time, to tell their side of events. It’s the core of the first section of the book and there’s candour and humility that’s genuinely commendable. The Shilton’s are understandably passionate about wanting gambling reform, and their story is most powerful when describing their efforts to tackle Pete’s addiction. Bet Fair refused a request for help from Steph (data protection of course), taking a further £52,000 off him despite having been told of his problems. He closed his account with them in 2015 but it took them another 5 years to exclude him (so he couldn’t re-open his account as may addicts will), no doubt coincidentally just after the Shilton’s started to talk about his addiction on TV.

Unfortunately, the rest of the book is very uneven. It closes with a sequence of postscripts, some of which are hugely insightful, some not so much. Charles Ritchie from Gambling With Lives, (also seen in Paul Merson’s recent BBC documentary) talks about his son’s gambling addiction and subsequent suicide. Their research estimates that between 5% to 10% of all suicides are gambling related. Carolyn Harris MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Reform, leaves the reader in no doubt as to the grip betting companies have on the game, and how deep their denial runs in terms of the misery they profit from. It’s a stark contrast from the vapid endorsement provided by Ian Duncan-Smith whose inclusion I can only assume stems from the Shilton’s highly vocal support for the Tory party, and whose sloth like action on reform is uncommented upon.

Between these sections is “Pete’s Career Story”, and sadly it’s one own goal after another. Stuart Pearce remembers Shilton routinely standing up in Bobby Robson’s England team meetings and prefacing everything he said with, “Gaffer, I’ve got 118 caps, I know what I’m talking about”. This kind of toe-curling braggadocio enables the Shilton’s to unintentionally give example after example of just how they don’t.

Steph (who knew points out she knew nothing about football when they met 10 years ago) is still aghast that England didn’t snap up her offer to have Pete come and coach their keepers. According to Steph, “coaches are threatened by Pete’s history and experience in the game”. It’s a ludicrous assertion as there’s no mention of him having coaching badges or the fact it was a job he walked away from under Graham Taylor in the early 90’s. Presumably the explanation for Ray Clemence’s (a contemporary and good friend of Shilton) service to multiple England managers (Hoddle, Keegan, Eriksson, McLaren, Hodgson) and role as the Head of the FA’s Youth Development was down to him being less of a “threat”.

There are repeated references to “Shilton’s Secrets”, a video made around 2017, which Shilton claims sets out his “legacy”, and explains the techniques modern goalkeepers are missing. According to an interview given to the Daily Mail, Shilton claims his techniques could improve performance by “15% to 20%”. We’ll have to take Pete’s word for it because I can’t find a copy anywhere, not even on Shilton’s own website. It’s the kind of self-aggrandising nonsense that unintentionally gives the reader a fairly csense of maybe why there’s been no rush to sign him as a coach or instructor.

Shilton revisits the Hand of God incident at length. That many people will remember you mostly for coming off second best to a Maradona handball obviously leaves a bruise. But 35 years later, when the world has moved on and with Maradona dead, Shilton’s is still wants to talk about the apology he feels he was owed, indignant about the attempts made to get them together. Had he done so, he’d might well have got the acknowledgement Lineker got from him in 2006. And possibly some closure.

In terms of the game today, Shilton has little positive to say. Modern goalkeeping just isn’t as challenging (not a word on the major impact the 1992 pass back rule had on keeping skills), that players are pampered, playing on billiard smooth pitches. Foreign coaches have had a negative impact on the game. It’s not just Shilton’s jersey that’s green. The sad thing is that there’s really no doubt Shilton was not just one of the UK’s greatest keepers, but one of the very best in the world. But somehow this isn’t enough – he’s “England’s greatest”, according to his own website.

The Shilton’s hope that their book might help other addicts, and if “it can change or save one life, it will have been worth every second”. Well, on that, we can agree. In terms of what it has to offer in respect of football I’m sorry to say there’s very little.
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I found this book to be a fascinating and sad read at the same time.The illness that Peter Shilton suffered,and it is an illness,was quite horrendous considering the pressure of losing the sums of money that he was losing but as he says did not affect his performance in football which being the goalkeeper that he was I'm sure he's right,but it must have been in his mind nearly all the time which led to depression and a roller coaster life.
He found his saviour in his wife Steph whom without her intervention Peter may still be living a very unhappy life as a gambler.
It was a good read with lots of information for organisations who help with this kind of problem.
Thanks to Netgalley and Ad Lib publishers for the ARC
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What a difficult book to write. We all have our demons, but for someone so in the public eye to document such private issues, shows a tremendous courage.
As well as a book to hopefully help people with similar gambling addiction problems, this is also a love story. The impact that Steph had should never be underestimated and I loved reading her side of the story.
The book moves into a history of Peter’s career and this should satisfy all football lovers.
An eye-opener, but I have nothing but respect for this couple.
Thanks to NetGalley and Ad Lib Publishers for providing me with an Advance Reader's Copy in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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Saved is an interesting & thought provokingbook about the problems ex England footballer Peter Shilton has faced due to his gambling addiction.

The chapters alternatively tell the story from both Peter and his wife Steph’s aspect and it is this which, for me, takes the book above your traditional ex sportsman’s battle.

The book also raises some very serious questions and issues that could and do affect anybody whether you have won 125 caps for England or just kicked a ball in the local park.

Recommended
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This was a salutary lesson about the dangers of gambling and how it can creep up on you insidiously. Peter Shilton was one of the greats and a goalkeeper that I used to cheer from afar and now I would like to give him and his partner another cheer for the brave and unflinching way tat they have admitted, discussed and dissected his gambling obsession and dispassionately described the toll it took on his health, wealth and happiness.

Packed full of information and good advice, this book should be required reading for all young footballers - or better still, youngsters from all areas of life.

Highly recommended.
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Peter Shilton is not the first and will not be the last to suffer from this destructive addiction. Many top footballers have owned up to the habit and sought assistance. And yet, nothing is being done to highlight the blight of gambling addiction in the modern game.
Not until the government takes action will anything be done about this massive problem. Young players are given thousands of pounds a week at a young age, and the temptation is there constantly. Snooker and Formula one coped without cigarette sponsorship, surely football can survive without the betting industry and betting company logos plastered all over their shirts. We are inundated with gambling adverts on every sports channel and newspaper, there is no escape.
Peter highlights the dangers brilliantly and shows how easy it is to fall into the traps and snares of gambling addiction. A little bet here, a little bet there, a win, a loss it all mounts up. As Peter said, sometimes it is just the adrenaline rush. You get to the stage where you are chasing money. A little win is never enough because you just want the big score.
Kudos to Peter and Steph for opening up, as they have, and for giving the reader access to their private lives. There is plenty of information about extra reading material and websites you can access at the end of the book. 'Saved' is a truly engaging and thought-provoking read, and I highly recommend it.
Thank you, NetGalley and Ad Lib Publishers, for the ADC of the book.
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Peter Shilton - a true gentleman, living legend and England’s most capped men’s player - kept a crippling gambling addiction secret for 45 years until it nearly destroyed his mental health, marriage and very nearly his own life. This book is Peter’s story, told in partnership with his wife Steph, and is honest and unflinching. 
Not exactly a straight auto/biography, “Saved”, is intended to be a helpful guide for everyone addicted to gambling, and provides tools to help themselves and their families to deal with the addiction, including details of websites and resources. Peter and his wife Steph have become vigorous campaigners for gambling companies to be held to account. 
Each chapter is told from both Pete & Steph’s perspectives and we get a candid confession from Peter about how he kept his gambling secret (a sure sign of addiction) and often lost five-figure sums monthly. As his health began to suffer, meeting Steph was the first step towards his recovery. It’s clear that she has been an absolute rock in Peter’s life, and their love for each other is clear. 
Beginning with a heartfelt foreword by Gary Lineker, the book also includes a section on Peter Shilton’s practically unmatched football career, including the infamous “Hand of God” goal, and tributes to Peter from other goalkeepers. There is also a very sobering chapter on the gambling industry itself and the extent of addiction, with facts that will shock you. 
“Saved” is a short but affecting read. Brutally honest, both heartbreaking and hopeful, this book is a beacon of hope for everyone who is suffering under the yoke of gambling addiction.
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