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Championship Manager. If ever two words were representative of my student years, it’s these two. Tragic I know, but I have a feeling that there are countless others who would (perhaps grudgingly) agree with me. God knows how many hours I have spent (note that I’m avoiding the word “wasted”) playing numerous iterations of this monster of a computer game. Hours spent finding that 17-year-old “wunderkid” from Finland (it was Jussi Pekka Savolainen by the way), hours spent finessing the 4-3-1-2 formation in training (Tonton Zola Moukoko in the hole, wow), hours spent guiding BasingstokeTown from the Conference South up to the Premiership. Never has a game been so immersive, so addictive and so plain fun. I can’t think of many other games where I would conduct a post-match interview in the shower to the imaginary press team having led Rushden and Diamonds to Champions League glory (thanks to Cherno Samba)…

Christ, I’m not painting a positive picture of myself right now.

But some of you will understand. And those who do should read a fantastic little book – “Football Manager Stole My Life”. It charts how a game that was thought up by two students back in the early 90s developed into the behemoth it now is. A game that’s been cited in 35 divorce cases in the UK. A game that created a footballing legend even though he never even existed (step forward To Madeira). A game whose player database was licensed by Everton to help David Moyes try and find a decent player for no money. He should have bought Mikael Dorsin. Or Andri Sigþórsson. Or Johan Oberg.

It’s a fun and nostalgic read. If Championship Manager meant anything to you when you were growing up then it’s highly recommended. If it didn’t? Well, hard luck. I pity you.

by Henry Bartlam

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