Kieron Dyer's autobiography will shock many - inside and outside football
Former Ipswich Town star Kieron Dyer made front and back page headlines in a controversial career he is set to re-live in his autobiography, 'Old too soon, smart too late'. MIKE BACON went to meet him.
It’s a profound title for an autobiography. But Kieron Dyer is happy with it.
‘Old too soon, smart too late’, pretty well describes the career of one of England’s ‘Golden Generation’ on and off the pitch – Dyer, the Ipswich-born schoolboy, made good.
From his humble beginnings in a terraced house, just a stone’s throw away from Portman Road in the town, Kieron Dyer has lived the dream.
He was made rich beyond his wildest dreams after the post-1990 World Cup boom in the game and the explosion of the Premier League.
Almost 100 appearances for his home-town club, a £6m move to Newcastle United and 200 more appearances, 33 England caps, money, fame, women, houses, fast cars... Dyer has enjoyed the lot.
But much of it came at a price.
One of a plethora of young England stars in the new millennium, Dyer became famed not just for his on-pitch skills, but his off-pitch antics.
His autobiography, out in February, is warts and all... it will shock.
“I don’t hold back,” Dyer said.
“People don’t know me. Most have never known me. I’ve finished playing professionally now. I don’t have to be politically correct, I tell it as it is.
“I’ve made monumental errors, I know that, but I think people will be touched how honest I’ve been in this book. I’ve no excuses. Hopefully people will know me a bit better after they’ve read it.
“The publishers have told me it’s the best and most honest autobiography they have ever worked on.
“It’s out on its own.
“They said every chapter ends with you going, ‘wow’, then ‘wow’ for the next chapter, ‘wow’ the next one. There is no downtime, no stopping.
“When you hear people telling you that, then you know you’ve done something good. I’m really proud of how it has come out.”
Dyer remains an Ipswich Town fan.
Today he works at the club’s academy... “Trying to be the next Mourinho or Guardiola,” he laughs.
But his is a story far from full of laughter – there have been some very upsetting times.
He knows he has been his own worst enemy, but gossip, innuendo and ‘fake news’ is rarely funny. An emotional guy, this book delves into his personal life in a way you cannot imagine.
“I reckon 99% of footballers come from working class backgrounds, many broken homes, even poverty,” Dyer said.
“It’s not an excuse, but a lot of players are brought up poor. Then, just like I was, suddenly at 20 years of age, I’m a millionaire!
“The first thing I did when I left Ipswich and moved to Newcastle was buy a flat on the Quayside. Anyone who knows Newcastle knows that’s the hub of nightlife in the city.
“Me, 20 years old, loads of money, in the centre of Newcastle. Today, that would never be allowed to happen.
“What I was doing as a 20-year-old plenty of 20-year-olds were doing a similar thing, some still are, all that Ayia Napa stuff in 2000 (involving a sex tape), it doesn’t make it right, of course not, but because of who we were it was broadcast on a different level. As you get older, you get wiser of course.
“My book is coming out in February, my son Kie, who is 17, is planning to go on his first lads’ holiday in the summer. All I can do is give him words of advice, tell him where you went wrong and hope he takes it on board.”
On the pitch, Dyer was a fine footballer, with silky skills and pace. He knew where the goal was and would have gone on to make far more than his 33 England caps had he not suffered a catalogue of injuries, including two broken legs.
He feels Ipswich Town fans will be fascinated by much of the Blues content in the book.
“It’s a must read for Ipswich fans,” he said. “I talk a great deal about being with the first team as a young player. It was brutal, there was a bit of bullying, stories about what happened to me as a youth team player.
“My relationship with George Burley and David Sheepshanks almost ended in tears... there is a lot to tell.”
The book comes out in February, although it can be pre-ordered now on Amazon, while Dyer is planning a launch – at Ipswich Town – with former players, Craig Bellamy and Jermaine Jenas in attendance – as well as author, Oliver Holt.
“It will be a big launch, with a meal, a free book and Q&A with me, Jermaine, Craig and Oliver,” Dyer said.
“The money will go half to the Town Academy and half to a charity of my choice. Tickets will be released soon and I’m sure it will be a good night.”
Old Too Soon, Smart Too Late: My Story – Kieron Dyer.
By Oliver Holt, £20. Published by Headline
Available to pre-order on Amazon.co.uk.