The fan - Hunter Davies lets slip a real secret about Sven
Sven's agent is asking for seven figures. That means a million-plus
Whatever happened to Sven? Thin bloke, rimless specs, receding silver hair, cool, calm and collecting blondes. He was all over the papers, oh just days ago, but now it's as if he never existed. People keep asking me about him and I say no, he's not changed his name and started doing good works in the East End, or gone into a monastery, nor reading theology at Oxford. He's had a nice tropical hol to celebrate that brilliant draw against Macedonia, and is now thinking about what to do next. Please don't be too hard on him. You wouldn't like it. Imagine, no proper work for five months. Just hanging around. Till England meet the might of Liechtenstein on 29 March 2003.
I've suggested delivering newspapers, doing the Saturday round over the winter in Loweswater. I did it since May, which took me back to my childhood, how I began in life, though this time I did it in my Jaguar. I've now come south, so they desperately need someone, but Nancy won't let him. She says she doesn't like the idea of him going round people's houses.
What about stamps? An ideal hobby for healthy boys with time on their hands. Would suit Sven. You don't have to shout and scream at other people, just sit there, motionless, holding your tweezers. Nancy also vetoed that. Doesn't want him going off to stamp fairs, then leaving early, wink wink, to avoid the crowds.
It's no use saying I'd like a job like that, one that pays £2m a year to do so little. You have to understand that men in their prime want to be doing things, not sitting around, scribbling names to play Mars on bits of scrap paper.
By chance, last week, I discovered what he is doing, though keep it secret. Not official yet. I went for lunch with my publisher. Not Anthony Cheetham at the Ivy, that's next week. Nor Polly Powell in Docklands. I've got several publishers, playing them off, hoping they'll never meet. A bit like Sven. This was the editorial director of another well-known firm, and he said he had been approached by an agency acting for Sven. They are hoping for a seven-figure sum for his biography.
You mean three pounds, seventeen shillings and eleven pence ha'penny, that sort of seven figures, what I used to get for delivering papers when I was 16, same age as Wayne Rooney? No, he said, it means they are wanting more than a million pounds. Strewth.
Then I thought: Fergie made a million from his last book, even though it was his eighth, and Roy Keane will probably do the same. George Best is making a fortune from his, and he hasn't played football since I was a lad. Sven's agent is only being realistic. There's a lot of money in a juicy football book.
But will Sven's be juicy? He's surprised us all, scoring in away games, so what do we know about his true personality? But I still find it hard to believe. Fergie and Keane have always shot their mouths off, got the boot in, spared no one, but from Sven's public utterances so far, he prefers to remain buttoned up. At least in public.
The other factor with Sven's biog, now being touted around, officially or otherwise, is that it won't appear till 2004, after the Euro finals. He might be history by then, forgotten totally by the football and tabloid worlds. So my publisher friend has said no, count me out of any auction.
On the other hand, England could not only have stuffed Turkey twice by then, but won the European title. Sven's memoirs could easily be worth eight figures.
On the other other hand - which now gives him three, very handy - by 2004 he could well be riding around Loweswater in his old FA Merc delivering papers, full time.