January 5, 2009 / 1:50 PM / 10 years ago

Soccer's Cabrini moonlights as a novelist

ROME (Reuters Life!) - Former Italy defender Antonio Cabrini is not the first retired soccer player to write a book and he will not be the last.

What sets the 1982 World Cup-winner aside is that, instead of the usual autobiography packed with anecdotes of his glory days and gossip about team mates, he has made his publishing debut with a work of fiction.

Ricatto Perfetto (Perfect Blackmail) is the story of Alan Bussetti, an unemployed journalist who seeks to dig his way out of dire financial straits by blackmailing some old friends.

“I find books about football and sport predictable. When you’ve read one, they are more or less all the same,” the 51-year-old told Reuters at the novel’s Rome presentation.

“The world of football is what it is, you can’t reveal anything unusual.

“I, on the other hand, got excited about the idea of telling a story outside my world. I think I’m the first former athlete to write a novel rather than a book about their world.”

Cabrini did not take any creative writing courses before starting the book, penned in breaks between coaching jobs.

It is set in Turin in the 1990s, but the theme of coping with hard economic times makes it highly topical.

“I wasn’t thinking about Italy’s difficult economic plight, now part of a global crisis, when I wrote the book,” he said. “But it has come out at a time when the situation portrayed in it is really being experienced. That makes it very real.”


The former Juventus player has led a privileged existence after winning virtually every trophy in soccer including six Italian titles and the European Cup.

But he said he had no trouble relating to everyday problems.

“I’m privileged because I have lived in an extraordinary world, but you reach your peak when you achieve something extraordinary in everyday life,” he said.

“Then you can feel success even if you are not a famous personality.”

Cabrini’s coaching career has not yet taken off, after unsuccessful stints with the Syrian national team and at a series of Italian sides outside the top division.

Nevertheless, he is not considering leaving soccer to become a full time writer, even if the book is a hit.

“My main job is being a football coach and it always will be. If I have free time, which means I’m not working as a coach, I’ll keep writing,” he said.

“I already have an idea for another thriller that’s much more intense and perhaps even more interesting in terms of its plot twists.”

Cabrini, who recently took part in the Italian version of Australian reality television show Celebrity Survivor, is famous for helping Italy win the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

But he said this is not always a blessing.

“People expect a lot more from you without realizing that what you’ve done in the past has nothing to do with what you do every day,” he explained.

Editing by Mark Meadows and Paul Casciato

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