The best sports books and autobiographies

From gritty sports autobiographies by Olympic athletes and a multiple Ballon d’Or winner to explorations of marathon running and the cultural impact of football, here is a trophy cabinet of some of the best sports books jostling for position on the shelves.

Determined, competitive and possessing an impressive capacity for mental endurance – the characteristics that make great athletes often lead them to live extraordinary lives. Sports autobiographies offer us the opportunity to get the full story behind the goals, records and medals, as well as help us understand the wider impact of the athletic world off the field.

Whether your favourite sport requires a ball, an engine or even a hoof, here is a compilation of the best sports books and autobiographies out there.


by Chris Kamara

Book cover for Kammy

One of the most well-known faces of the beautiful game, Chris ‘Kammy’ Kamara is a national treasure. Now, he’s sharing the story of his incredible life. From his days in the Royal Navy and a playing career that took him all over England to becoming one of the game’s best-loved commentators, Kammy lifts the lid on a career that he could never have dreamt of growing up in Middlesbrough. Told with unflinching honesty, but with his trademark humour and positivity, this is a must-read for any football fan.

The World's Biggest Cash Machine

by Chris Blackhurst

Book cover for The World's Biggest Cash Machine

In The World's Biggest Cash Machine, Chris Blackhurst meticulously unravels the controversial reign of the Glazers over Manchester United. Purchasing the club in 2005, they ignited global discontent, driving it into record debts and marking the fiscal transformation of football. Despite on-field declines, they flourished financially. Blackhurst probes their secretive lives and business acumen, while mapping the club’s captivating journey amidst the Premier League’s metamorphosis into a billionaires' haven.

On Days Like These

by Martin O'Neill

Book cover for On Days Like These

With a career spanning over fifty years, Martin tells of his exhilarating highs and painful lows; from the joys of winning trophies, promotion and fighting for World Cups to being harangued by fans, boardroom drama, relegation scraps and being fired. Written with his trademark honesty and humour, On Days Like These is one of the most insightful and captivating sports autobiographies and a must-read for any fans of the beautiful game.

Cheers, Geoff!

by Geoff Shreeves

Book cover for Cheers, Geoff!

Packed full of hilarious stories on and off the pitch – including trying to teach Sir Michael Caine how to act, a frightening encounter with Mike Tyson, as well as getting a lift home from the World Cup with Mick Jagger – Cheers, Geoff! is a must-read autobiography for any football fan. A natural storyteller, Geoff brings an astonishing catalogue of tales to life with his unique brand of experience, insight and humour.

The Little Red Book of Klopp

Book cover for The Little Red Book of Klopp

It’s debatable whether Jürgen Klopp is better-known for his charisma off the pitch or his success on it. Having brought Liverpool back to winning ways in both the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League, Klopp is known for captivating press conferences and charming touch-line antics. The Little Red Book of Klopp is a collection of his most iconic sayings, from light-hearted witticisms to cutting insults.

The Age of Football

by David Goldblatt

Book cover for The Age of Football

For many people around the world, football is so much more than just a game. In The Age of Football, sport historian David Goldblatt widens the lens to trace how the game intersects politics, economics and wider culture. With focuses as diverse as prison football in Uganda, the presidency of Recep Erdogan and the importance of the beautiful game in the Arab Spring, David demonstrates the extent to which the sport impacts society today.

My Life in Football

by Kevin Keegan

Book cover for My Life in Football

Whether it’s being the only Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or twice, achieving European glory with Liverpool or managing Newcastle from the bottom of the Second Division to the brink of winning the Premier League title, Kevin Keegan – known as ‘King Kev’ – has proven his pedigree both on the pitch and the touchline.  His autobiography details the highs and lows of an illustrious career, including clashes with Sir Alex Ferguson and his return to Newcastle during the controversial Mike Ashley era.


by Rassie Erasmus

Rassie Erasmus, a rugby maverick, unfolds his unconventional journey from player to coach in the pinnacle of the sport. This candid account delves into his pivotal roles in iconic Springbok teams, grappling with injuries, and pioneering coaching methods. Most crucially, Rassie talks about his greatest contribution to South African rugby: appointing its first black captain, Siya Kolisi, without much fanfare or controversy. As his bold plans for effective racial transformation of the national team achieved immediate success, they culminated in glory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. 

Too Many Reasons to Live

by Rob Burrow

Book cover for Too Many Reasons to Live

The inspirational memoir from rugby league legend Rob Burrow on his extraordinary career and his battle with motor neurone disease.

This is the story of a tiny kid who adored rugby league but never should have made it  and ended up in the Leeds hall of fame. It's the story of a man who resolved to turn a terrible predicament into something positive  when he could have thrown the towel in. It's about the power of love, between Rob and his childhood sweetheart Lindsey; and of friendship, between Rob and his faithful team mates. Far more than a sports memoir, Too Many Reasons to Live is a story of boundless courage and infinite kindness.

He is one in a million and his story is truly inspirational
Clare Balding on Rob Burrows

Belonging: The Autobiography

by Alun Wyn Jones

Book cover for Belonging: The Autobiography

Belonging is the story about how as a boy, Alun Wyn Jones left Mumbles and returned as the most capped rugby player of all time. It is the story of what it takes to become a player who is seen by many as one of the greatest Welsh players there has ever been. What it takes to go from sitting, crossed legged on the hall floor at school, watching the 1997 Lions Tour of South Africa to being named the 2021 Lions Captain.

But is it also about perthyn - belonging, playing for Wales, what it takes to earn the right to be there, and what it feels like to make the sacrifices along the way. 

Unbelievable player. Magnificent captain. One of the game’s greatest icons.
James Haskell on Alun Wyn Jones


by Eddie Jones

Book cover for Leadership

One of the most successful sports coaches ever, Eddie Jones took three separate nations to Rugby World Cup Finals, and enjoyed a success rate with the England team of almost eighty per cent. An expert in guiding and managing high-performing teams, Jones believes that his methods can be applied to many walks of life. From fostering ambition to following your curiosity, Jones shares his methodology, much of it learned through conversations with other successful managers and leaders, including Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola. Leadership is the ultimate guide to being your best, in rugby and in life.

My Life and Rugby

by Eddie Jones

Book cover for My Life and Rugby

With a career spanning four World Cups, Eddie Jones is one of the most seasoned figures in Rugby Union. Possessing an unparalleled ability to transform teams, he built the Japan national team into the side that defeated South Africa in 2015, and turned a struggling England team into finalists at the 2019 World Cup. The England coach is never afraid to speak his mind, and his autobiography is told true to unflinching form.

The Running Book

by John Connell

Book cover for The Running Book

John Connell, award-winning author of The Cow Book, takes the reader on a marathon run of 42.2 kilometres through Ireland. Over 42 chapters and 42,000 words, John reflects on his life, Irish history and the stories of his greatest running heroes. Whether you’re a keen runner or you’d just like to read what it’s like to undertake a marathon, The Running Book is the perfect endorphin-filled sports book about the nature of happiness and how it can be found on foot.

Unbelievable - From My Childhood Dreams To Winning Olympic Gold

by Jessica Ennis

Book cover for Unbelievable - From My Childhood Dreams To Winning Olympic Gold

Jessica Ennis-Hill has been one of the poster girls for women in sport for years. Indeed, arguably the greatest moment of the London 2012 games came when Jessica secured her heptathlon gold medal. But her rise was beset with challenges. From being bullied as a child for being small to her career-threatening injury on the eve of the 2008 Olympics, Jessica has had to show plenty of perseverance to prove her doubters wrong. This sports autobiography tells the full story behind the world’s greatest female all-rounder athlete.

My Life: Queen of the Court

by Serena Williams

Book cover for My Life: Queen of the Court

Serena Williams needs little introduction, having won every major title going in tennis. From growing up playing on courts covered in broken glass in Compton to reaching the top of world tennis, all while being criticised for her unorthodox playing style and dealing with the tragic shooting of her older sister, Serena has proven herself an inspiration to her multitudes of fans. In My Life, she reflects on her extraordinary journey.

The Inner Game of Tennis

Book cover for The Inner Game of Tennis

Recently named by Bill Gates as one of his 'all-time favourite books', and described by Billie Jean King as her 'tennis bible', this bestseller has been a must-read for tennis players of all abilities for nearly fifty years. Rather than concentrating on how to improve technique, Gallwey deals with the 'inner game' within ourselves as we try to overcome doubt and maintain clarity of mind when playing. 'It’s the best book on tennis that I have ever read,' says Gates, 'and its profound advice applies to many other parts of life.'

Groundbreaking . . . It’s the best book on tennis that I have ever read, and its profound advice applies to many other parts of life. I still give it to friends today.
Bill Gates

When Fury Takes Over

by John Fury

Book cover for When Fury Takes Over

Born into a family of Irish traveller heritage, Big John Fury descends from a long line of bare-knuckle fighters. So it’s no surprise that he too found himself fighting outside the ring at a young age. From his early years in Manchester, John learned to box by practising fighting within the travelling community, before graduating into the sport professionally. The ring has never been far from his sights, and John has played a crucial role in coaching and being a cornerman for his two-time British heavyweight champion son, Tyson Fury. From Netflix's At Home With The Furys this is the Gypsy Warrior, Big John Fury, totally unfiltered and in his own words.

Believe: Boxing, Olympics and my life outside the ring

by Nicola Adams

Book cover for Believe: Boxing, Olympics and my life outside the ring

Nicola Adams famously changed the face of sport at London 2012 when she became the first woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal for boxing. Repeating her medal haul at Rio 2016 further cemented her place in the nation’s hearts, while she has also gone on to become a champion for  LGBTQ+ rights and a contestant on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. Believe documents the grit and determination that got her to gold.


by Yusra Mardini

Book cover for Butterfly

While Yusra Mardini was fleeing her native Syria for the Turkish coast in 2015, the small dingy she and many other refugees were on began to sink. Yusra, her sister and two others took to the water, pushing the boat for three and a half hours in open water until they arrived safely at Lesbos. Remarkably, Yusra went on to compete as a swimmer for the Refugee Olympic Athletes Team in the 2016 Rio Olympics, and also became a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Her autobiography is for anyone who loves true-life stories of outstanding resilience.

Find a Way

Book cover for Find a Way

In the 1970s, Diana Nyad was widely regarded as the greatest long-distance swimmer in the world but one record continually eluded her: becoming the first woman to swim between Cuba and the Florida Keys. Finally, after four failed attempts and at the age of sixty-four, Diana completed the crossing. This memoir shows her unwavering belief in the face of overwhelming odds. Winner of the Cross Sports International Autobiography of the Year, this is a story of perseverance, tenacity and commitment on an epic scale.

Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was

by Daniel Friebe

Book cover for Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was

In 1997, Jan Ullrich obliterated his rivals in the first mountain stage of the Tour de France. So awesome was his display that it sent shockwaves throughout the world of cycling. Everyone agreed: Jan Ullrich was the future of cycling. He was also voted Germany’s most popular sportsperson of all time, and his rivalry with Lance Armstrong defined the most controversial years of the Tour de France. But just what did happen to the best who never was? This is an account of how unbearable expectation, mental and physical fragility, a complicated childhood, a morally corrupt sport and one individual – Lance Armstrong – can conspire to reroute destiny.


by Poorna Bell

Book cover for Stronger

Have you ever worried that you're not enough, or that, if you were stronger or more confident you would achieve more? In Stronger, award-winning journalist and competitive amateur powerlifter Poorna Bell investigates and unveils the potential that women can unlock when they realise their strength – both physical, and mental. Through examining her own experiences, as well as those of dozens of women, Bell shows how finding strength can work for you, regardless of your age, ability or background, and offers actionable ways for your to harness it in your life. 

Lights Out, Full Throttle

by Damon Hill

Book cover for Lights Out, Full Throttle

Amassing 261 Grand Prix appearances between them, Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill have experienced all the highs, lows and injury records associated with the greatest names in motorsport. In Lights Out, Full Throttle, Johnny and Damon take the reader on a tour around the high-octane world of F1 racing, from Silverstone and safety to Monaco and money, as well as looking at the future of racing in the light of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter.

Alone on the Wall

by Alex Honnold

Book cover for Alone on the Wall

Anyone who has seen the Oscar and BAFTA-winning documentary Free Solo will be familiar with Alex Honnold’s vertigo-inducing work. As one of the world’s best ‘free solo’ climbers, Alex tackles perilous rock faces without the use of any climbing gear. Free soloists undertake one of the deadliest sports on the planet – many have died in pursuit of their sport. Alone on the Wall is a pulse-raising account of some of Alex’s greatest climbs, told with Alex ‘No Big Deal’ Honnold’s trademark calm and collected humour in the face of mortal danger. A sports autobiography for adrenaline junkies.

Dream Horse

by Janet Vokes

Book cover for Dream Horse

Janet Vokes dreamed of breeding a working-class horse to take on the wealthy high-flyers. To pursue this idea she bought a mare for £350, bred it with a pedigree stallion and encouraged her Welsh mining village to band together to raise the resulting foal, Dream Alliance. Despite being raised on an allotment, Dream went on to defy the odds at Ascot, Aintree and even Cheltenham Festival. Heart-warming reading for anyone who loves a true underhorse sports book.