IN the early 1990s, Pat Nevin had swapped the glamour and excitement of top-flight English football for life in provincial Chester with a wife, a baby and playing for Tranmere Rovers.

“If that sounds to you like it might not make a very interesting read,” he writes in the introduction to the second volume of his memoirs, “don’t worry, because it was from this rather safe existence that my life and career took several unpredictable and wild turns...”

As he prepares to discuss his new book, Football and How To Survive It, at the Paisley Book Festival next month, Nevin admits the reaction to it, and to its bestselling predecessor The Accidental Footballer, has taken him by surprise.

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“It’s been really, really good,” he says, slowly, sounding a little amazed. “There was a phenomenal reaction to The Accidental Footballer. The second book is similar to the first in that it’s very much an outsider’s view on what it’s like inside the football industry.

“It’s such a strange job being a footballer. The way people treat you, the strange attitudes they have towards you while you’re doing it.” He pauses. “The title is deliberate. It is about surviving the industry because I just wanted to come out of football as ‘normal’ as I was when I went into it,” he adds. “I never wanted it to define who I was.”

The Herald: Celtic Park

Nevin grew up in Easterhouse in the East End of Glasgow, watching Celtic play at Parkhead and encouraged to train and practise skills every day by his football-loving father, Patrick Sr. 
From street league team the Blue Stars under-12s, he joined Celtic Boys and was then signed up by the main club while he was still at high school.

From there, he went on to have a highly successful career with Clyde, Chelsea, Everton, Tranmere Rovers, Kilmarnock and Motherwell, where he was also CEO. He won 28 caps for Scotland and he is now a respected football writer and broadcaster.

All the while, Nevin studied hard, read books, went to the ballet and became obsessed by music. He has a degree from Glasgow Caledonian University, has written for music magazine NME and was a guest music presenter on Radio City during his Everton and Tranmere career.

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“Maybe I always had unconventional attitudes and these in turn led me to being a natural outsider,” he writes in Football And How To Survive It.  “In my late teens I tried hard not to become a full-time professional footballer then totally failed by subsequently having a 19-year playing career.

“I always loved playing football so why the initial reluctance to become a pro? It was because just about everything else surrounding the sport, other than the actual playing, didn’t appeal to the earnest young man I was back then.”

The Herald:

The new memoir is an engaging, funny and moving read, which takes in Nevin’s journey from Tranmere Rovers to Motherwell, from hanging out with John Peel to living a quieter life with wife Annabel and children Lucy and Simon. It also includes chapters on how he and his family dealt with his mother’s cancer diagnosis, and the news that his young son had autism.

“My son was diagnosed when he was two years old, which changed his life,” he says.  “You see life though a very different prism from that point. We didn’t talk about it much, not because we were embarrassed, but because it was my son’s story, if and when he wanted to share it. 

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“Including it in the book wasn’t about asking people to get the violins out, it was just about trying to get across there should be some level of understanding about what people might be going through.”

A large chunk of Football And How To Survive It is devoted to Nevin’s time at Motherwell, where as a senior player he was approached by then owner John Boyle to take over as CEO. The experiment ended badly in April 2002 when Motherwell went into administration and Nevin left.

“Of course, I never expected any of it,” he says, “the weirdness of that time. I remember one day John actually suggesting, because I was so busy and was trying to get to different appointments I should think about booking a helicopter.” He laughs. “I mean, just for 10 seconds, I was seriously considering taking a helicopter to work. That’s how mad things had become.”

Nevin hopes the book provides some insight into the “mad world” of Scottish football, saying: “I think because I left and John stayed, people thought I’d write a hatchet job, but that’s complete rubbish. I’ve read plenty of memoirs that are nothing more than thinly-veiled revenge, and that bores me. This is not that kind of book.”

Nevin always planned a trilogy, he says, revealing the third book in the series will be a little bit different. “I love travel writing and because I have travelled so much over my career, I want to write about the places I’ve been to,” he says. “When I go somewhere, whether it’s Munich, or Prague or Liverpool, I love experiencing the place itself, so I desperately wanted to write about that. So this one will be more of a travelogue. It will definitely be the lightest of the three.”

Music has always been part of Nevin’s  story – the chapters in Football And How To Survive It all reference song titles – but despite some “low-level DJ-ing” he admits he has fallen behind on new music since he began writing his memoirs. “The horrible part of the past three years has been the fact I cannot listen to music when I am writing,” he says, with a laugh. “I just can’t do it – can’t have the radio on in the background, even – has to be complete silence. So I’m looking forward to catching up on all the music I have missed.” 

The Beautiful Game: Pat Nevin

Paisley Book Festival

Friday 26 April, 7.30 – 8.30 pm

Main Hall – Paisley Town Hall

 £12 / £10 conc

Click here for tickets