Soccer self-portrait book sold for charity

Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:02pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A book of felt-tip pen self-portraits by some of the English soccer Premier League's best known names went to an anonymous bidder at a celebrity dinner and auction on Monday night.

Proceeds from the 32,000-pound ($49,150) auction of the leather-bound "The Art of Football" -- which contains self-portraits of more than 40 Premier League players and managers -- went to British music charity Nordoff Robbins, the Premier League said in a statement.

The portraits -- mostly stick-men -- might suggest more time spent in front of the locker room chalkboard than considering fine art at the Royal Academy, but the drawings are considered rare pieces of football memorabilia, according to a statement from the Premier League.

Nordoff Robbins provides music therapy services, music and health projects, as well as education programmes and research.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was one of the managers to add his self-portrait to the book, which was auctioned off at Football Extravaganza, the world's longest-running annual charity football event.

"I tried to do something happy and jovial because Nordoff Robbins does a lot of wonderful work in delivering music therapy to children," Ferguson said in the statement.

"I don't think anyone expects it to give young kids any inspiration to be artists but it certainly provides a talking point with all those great names in it."

The book includes a host of famous players such as Eric Cantona, Didier Drogba and Wayne Rooney.

Graphologist Emma Bache, who was employed by the league to analyze the signatures and portraits to assess the character and personalities of the individuals, described Rooney's drawing as Picasso-esque and said his portrait and signature reveal honesty, determination and self-criticism.

"He's a forward-thinker, an analyzer who wants to know what's what in everything," Bache said. "He doesn't take things lightly so tries his very best to work things out."

(Reporting by Paul Casciato; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

<p>Felt pen sketches by soccer players of England's Premier League are seen in photos released April 9, 2010. The drawings, by footballers such as Wayne Rooney (top L) and Ryan Giggs (bottom R), are among those by 40 players and managers to be included in a Premier League leather-bound book called The Art of Football. REUTERS/Premier League/Handout</p>