Paul Lake was Manchester born, a City fan from birth. His footballing talent was spotted at a young age and, in 1983, he signed coveted schoolboy forms for City. Only a short time later he was handed the team captaincy.
An international career soon beckoned and, after turning out for the England under-21 and B teams, he received a call-up to the England training camp for Italia '90. Despite missing out on a place in the final squad he suitably impressed the management, with Bobby Robson earmarking him as an England captain in the making. As a rising star Paul became a target for top clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool, but he always stayed loyal to his beloved club, deeming Maine Road the spiritual home at which his destiny lay.
But then, in September 1990, disaster struck. Paul ruptured his cruciate ligament and sustained the worst possible injury that a footballer can suffer. And so began his nightmare.
Neglected, ignored and misunderstood by his club after a succession of failed operations, Paul's career began to fall apart. Watching from the sidelines as similarly injured players regained their fitness, he spiralled into a prolonged bout of severe depression. With an enforced retirement from the game he adored, the death of his father and the collapse of his marriage, Paul was left a broken man.
Set against a turning point in English football, I'm Not Really Here is the powerful story of love and loss and the cruel, irreparable damage of injury; of determination, spirit and resilience and of unfulfilled potential and broken dreams.
Paul Lake could have been a world superstar but will forever be a legend at the club he loves - Steve McManaman
Paul Lake was the most gifted in the group of young players who brightened Manchester City up for fans in the 1980s who were pining for the glory days to return...his is an inspirational human story - The Guardian
I'd be frightened to put a price on his head these days ... Paul was as good a young player as I've ever worked with. - Howard Kendall
Without question, he is the best young player I have ever worked with - Mel Machin
You would class Paul in the top bracket. I always likened him to Colin Bell - he had that great ability to get up and down the park. - Tony Book
It was like having one of your mates playing for City. He would've captained England. No question. He was - and remains - one of us - Noel Gallagher
'... a raw, sometimes unsparing and frequently moving account of how Lake's career was shipwrecked and how a man with the world at his feet ended up as one of football's hard-luck stories...It is an epic, harrowing and gripping story of a man living, as the front cover confesses, 'a life of two halves' and it is maybe because the book is ghosted by his wife, Joanne, that he is able to provide such an unflinching account of how dark and tormented the days became once that joy - the buzz, the adrenaline, the fix - of running out on a pitch was removed...an astounding football autobiography.' - The Guardian
'I read Paul Lake's autobiography, I'm Not Really Here, from cover to cover yesterday. I started it and couldn't put it down. It's the best book I've read for a long time. It's not easy reading. In fact, some of the passages in it made me cry. Beautifully, powerfully written, it is particularly raw and unsparing about the former Manchester City captain's brutal, brutal struggle with injury. 'My knee felt like a stone in a beer can,' he says of one of his ill-fated comebacks. It's a must-read for any fan of football. It's out at the beginning of next month.' - The Mirror
His memoir - I'm Not Really Here - spares nothing in the raw details of what Lake endured. A football read even more harrowing than an England player's World Cup diary - Sport
my favourite player in those days was always Paul Lake. I used to love watching him. I don't know what it was about him, but he was just a top footballer and cool as !**k, never any pressure on him, always knew what he was doing. He could play for us now, man - Sport
Best football autobiography ever? Unquestionably - Metro
Paul Lake was born in Manchester in October 1968. He signed schoolboy forms for Manchester City FC in 1983, and made his senior debut against Wimbledon four years later. Capped several times at England under-21 level, he was selected for Bobby Robson's Italia '90 training squad. Later that year, and shortly after being handed the City captaincy, Paul suffered a serious knee injury. In 1995, following countless operations and a long spell of rehabilitation, he was forced to retire from the game. He went on to qualify as a sports physiotherapist, working for a number of football clubs in the north west. In March 2010 he was appointed Ambassador for Manchester City in the Community.