If you only read one book this year, make it this one

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If you only read one book this year, make it this one

Postby SouthLondonRedskin » Thu May 24, 2012 4:09 am

I don't know how easy it will be to get your side of the pond, but if you can, get a copy of Engage: The Fall And Rise Of Matt Hampson.

Matt Hampson, a 20-year-old rugby player from the Leicester Tigers club, was taking part in an England Under-21 training session when he suffered a freak accident that left him paralysed from the neck down.

Journalist Paul Kimmage visited Hampson as he recuperated, and wrote an article that won him an award. The friendship they struck up led Kimmage to tell Hampson’s full story, in all its harrowing detail, from the build-up to the fateful day, the drama of the accident itself, the incredibly long rehabilitation, and his struggle to adjust to what passes for him as a normal life.

This is a truly inspirational man (something that is said too often about people but is 100% correct in this case). As his father sat by his bedside with pain written all over his face thinking 'What is there for my son now?', Matt struggled to find words to comfort his dad. “I’ll be a better person for this in the long run, Dad” was his unselfish attempt to ease his dad's pain.


Hampson needs a team of 10 carers. Someone has to be alert while he sleeps, every minute of the night, in case his battery-powered ventilator cuts out. If it does, air has to be pumped into his lungs by a small, hand-operated rubber bellows. It’s called being “bagged”.

Hampson drew strength from family, friends and team-mates, especially from the Leicester Tigers, his local club. “The club has a responsibility to look after him,” the coach Richard Cockerill told Kimmage. “He was with England when he was injured, but he was a Tigers player, our player. He is still our player.”

Matt has since stunned the world of rugby by becoming a fully qualified coach. He now spends his time coaching youngsters and players about the danger of scrums and how to avoid injuries like the one that befell him.

Compare that if you will to the story of another professional athlete that you can also read about now. Robert Enke: A Life Too Short.

In the early evening of November 10th, 2009, the German national goalkeeper, Robert Enke, parked his black Mercedes SUV close to a level crossing in the north-west German state of Lower Saxony and stepped in front of a train travelling at more than 100mph. He was 32 years old.

The football world and beyond was stunned, friends and supporters unable to comprehend why an international footballer apparently at the peak of his career should decide to take his own life.

Enke’s life in football had taken him to Benfica and Barcelona before he established himself back in his homeland with Hannover 96. He looked likely to be Germany’s first choice ’keeper at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. But behind his success lay a different Robert Enke, one who had been dealt personal tragedy with the death of his two-year-old daughter in 2006 and had from a young age struggled with anxiety and depression.


Both books are very moving. But one leaves you in awe of another human beings ability to cope with unimaginable pain, suffering and loss. The other tells the story of a man unable to cope with those same things.

In life you need to focus on what you have, not on what you have lost or never had.
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Postby UK Skins Fan » Thu May 24, 2012 5:29 am

I've seen the Robert Enke book, but haven't bought it yet. I must admit, the story of Hampson had passed me by though. When you think about it, it's actually a miracle that more rugby players are not hurt during scrimmages. The immense force that is applied to necks and spines of front row players in a brief moment makes me cringe to think about it.
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