Hello, it's Wayne

Young Rooney has been fairly good at ringing me

When Wayne rings me from the England coach after a game, or from his hotel room in Baden-Baden, I have this image of all the players sitting like school kids doing their homework. They speak with one hand over their mouths so no one can overhear. When writing, they have one arm over the page, so no one can copy. If they get desperate and can't think of what to say, they'll ask the person in the next seat or desk: "Come on, I helped you, I'm stuck, how much have you done, creep." "Oh no, not fair, that's cheating."

I did give Wayne, on his departure to Germany, an ever-so-artistic little notebook, pretty cover, not cheap, and a list of about 20 topics and questions to address each day, plus instructions to collect any leaflets for his scrapbook. I did this for many years with my own children when they went off on school camps. Wayne did smile, when I handed it over, and said he would try to fill it in.

I am pretty confident that he has not written a bleedin' word, nor even opened the notebook, but he has been fairly good at ringing me. The trouble is, because he has been The Story for so many weeks, a lot of the stuff he tells me for his book has been getting into the papers a few days later. And probably into other people's books.

There are at least five players working on their autobiographies at this World Cup. Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole are doing books for Headline; Frank Lampard and Wayne for HarperCollins; Stevie Gerrard for Bantam. There may be others I don't know about.

Unlike World Cups of the past, there has been a noticeable absence of first-person diaries by any of England's players in the newspapers. Every national paper used to have one, even when they were rubbish. I'd imagined it was because the players didn't need the money any more. They are so well paid, plus doing an official autobiography can make them a million, so why bother speaking to some sweaty tabloid sub.

It turns out that Sven has put his little foot down. He sent each player a letter saying that he did not want them writing or contributing to any first-person articles during the World Cup. (The only person who appears to have technically transgressed is Michael Owen - not in a paper, but by allowing his name to be used on a blog.)

Come the end of the World Cup, there will be a rush, not just for the best book, but to publish quickly. At the moment, touch wood, pencils sharpened, Wayne Rooney's book will be out first - just two and a half weeks after the end of the World Cup, which is when the last chapter will be written. This is incredible, in publishing terms, for a hardback book. Let me see, using all fingers, plus metatarsals, I have done 40 books in my long-legged career and on average it has taken a publisher nine months to get a book out. That's because of all the editing, legal checks, pictures, fitting in with PR, marketing and sales schedules, plus general faffing around.

My next book, for example - not the Wayne book, but my own autobiography, out in August, hurry, hurry - will have taken a year from writing the last word to appearing in print. Just shows what publishers can do when there's a lot of money at stake. I often wonder what ordinary publishing editors think of all this. They are ever so well educated and hard-working, but badly paid, yet they are sloshing around millions on footballers and other celebs who are already rich, knocking themselves out to make things work, and on time. It's the modern world, innit.

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