Sports biographies with stories of inspiring, positive lessons a big draw at SIBF 2020

Sports celebrities offer lessons on how to beat the odds at the 39th Sharjah International Book Fair

Sharjah, November 14, 2020

Have you ever wondered about the incredible hard work and sacrifices sports stars often endure to reach the top of the game? What are the fears, hopes and dreams that spur them on?

To inspire readers with stories of commitment, perseverance, and endurance, the 39th Sharjah International Book Fair presented a wide selection of sports biographies that offer insights into the lives and experiences of sporting heroes.

Football lovers in the UAE went for books based on their favourite soccer heroes whose lives offer inspiring, positive lessons in leadership, motivation, goal-setting, team work and strategy.

For instance, Cristiano & Leo is a fascinating account of the lives and rivalry between two of the best footballers to ever play the game. Written by bestselling author Jimmy Burns, Cristiano & Leo was the Financial Times Sports Books of the Year 2018 pick and is the definitive story of two sporting stars who have defined football to a generation of fans.

At Panworld Education UAE was I Am Zlatan, where Swedish national team’s former captain reveals how he took refuge in soccer as a child as a release from his troubled childhood. A Swedish immigrant, Zlatan Ibrahimovic rose from poverty to become an international phenomenon in his early twenties.

In his own inimitable style, Zlatan recalls every struggle and every goal on his journey to dominate the world’s top clubs. ‘Why be a Fiat when you can be a Ferrari?’ asks the gifted player. Featuring stories of friendships and feuds with the biggest names in the sport, I Am Zlatan is both a gut-wrenching and redemptive tale that can inspire youth and adults alike, whether they play the sport or not.

In the same stand, The Beast, a true account of how the never-give-up attitude of 16-stone Adebayo Akinfenwa transformed him into a true cult hero, was among the most popularly sold sports titles. 

Described by FIFA as “the strongest footballer on the planet”, Akinfenwa was told several times he was ‘too big, too strong and not good enough’ to play football. The natural born leader refused to listen to those critics and has proven every one of them wrong. The Beast was longlisted for Best Autobiography at the British Sports Book Awards 2018 and is an inspiring and entertaining insight into the life of the English professional footballer.

Equally popular with the SIBF audience this year has been the Ultimate Football Heroes series at DC Books, which features short biographies of the biggest and best footballers in the world. In the book, Spanish footballer Andres Iniesta describes how he did not let his diminutive height stop him from becoming one of the most skillful players ever. The series also profiles Egyptian footballer Mohamed Salah, currently ranked 34th on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid athletes. The book details the daily four-hour bus journeys he undertook for training, sacrificing his education in the process, and how the cold-blooded drive to make it as a footballer and prove his critics wrong kept him going.

With a large population from the Subcontinent, cricket’s popularity in the UAE is the reason why personal accounts of cricketing giants, Sachin Tendulkar and M.S. Dhoni, have been bestsellers at SIBF 2020. Tendulkar, the Master Blaster who is widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time, gives a frank account of his fair share of frustration and failure, and stinging criticism from the media in Playing it My Way.

In The Dhoni Touch, Bharat Sundaresan captures the incredible ingenuity of the former captain, wicketkeeper and batsman, who emerged from a small town to knock on the doors of the Indian team, and reveals the remarkable journey of an ordinary man living an extraordinary life.   


– Images during the SIBF 2020