Then came Bobby Charlton and a line of George Best, Kenny Dalglish, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo, with Alan Shearer at the front. According to Lineker's introduction to Forgive Us Our Press Passes (a Know The Score book by members of the Football Writers' Association with proceeds going to the Great Ormond Street children's hospital), the choice of Shearer owed something to their juxtaposition on Match Of The Day. ''Seriously,'' Lineker adds, ''he wasn't a bad striker – after all, he learned from the master!''
Many of our craft's masters are on top form in the book, not least the Daily Telegraph's Henry Winter with an essay on Steven Gerrard. Winter has been busy for, after completing work on Gerrard's autobiography, he started on FA Confidential: Sex, Drugs and Penalties: The Inside Story of English Football with David Davies, the organisation's former executive director. The sex is recreational (at least from Sven-Goran Eriksson's point of view, though Faria Alam claimed an emotional dimension). And the drugs? Rio Ferdinand misses a test. Of the penalties, we also know. But we learn much about the dazzling vanity that consumes the FA when controversy strikes and an opportunity arises elaborately to conceal something from the media. So Sir Humphrey (there is more than a touch of (Yes, Minister about Davies). So English.