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Once in a Lifetime

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In 1971, Warner Brothers bought a local football team, the New York Cosmos. In 1975 the club signed a three-year deal with Pele, the greatest player the game had ever known. More big name signings would follow: the German superstar Franz Beckenbauer, the charismatic Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia and Brazil's 1970 World Cup winning captain, Carlos Alberto. Cosmos players were mainstays of the hedonistic club scene at Studio 54. Set against the backdrop of a city on the edge, Once In A Lifetime is much more than a football book. It is a vivid evocation of the mania that surrounded the Cosmos at the height of their powers in 1977 and the explosion in new forms of popular culture, the debauchery of Studio 54 and the razzmatazz and conspicuous expenditure that surrounded them. It is a story that embraces millionaires, superstars, gangsters, groupies, glamour, power struggles, alcoholic excess, drugs, and full-on fistfights. It also has some of the greatest football players ever to grace the game.
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About the Author

GAVIN NEWSHAM is a sportswriter and journalist who has written for the Guardian, The Sunday Times and the Observer Sport Monthly magazine; he is also the associate editor of Golf Punk magazine. Newsham was awarded the National Sporting Club Best New Writer in 2004 for his first book, Letting the Big Dog Eat. Once In A Lifetime was published by Atlantic Books in 2006. Gavin lives in Brighton with his wife and two children.


Sportswriter Newsham has managed to tack a narrative arc on what is basically the story of a failed business venture-the attempt of the National American Soccer League to popularize professional soccer in the U.S. The depiction of the circus that Warner Bros.' head Steve Ross creates when he begins to invest millions in the New York soccer team the Cosmos is colorful and keen. When international soccer sensation Pel? joins the team, rock and roll-style antics, expensive tours, visits from politicians, Studio 54 partying and Hollywood cameos make the Cosmos more "a pop culture happening" than a soccer club, and the author doesn't fail to dish. The narrative flows swiftly, and the play-by-plays are crafted well enough, but a struggle for imagistic novelty haunts the otherwise straightforward text. (One player "wouldn't so much put his oar into an argument as rip the thing from its lock and slap it across the face of anyone who dared to disagree with him.") Historical context is provided, sometimes effectively, sometimes to the point of distraction ("it would be an equally bad year for the president"). Quote-heavy and detail-rich, this unlikely drama of a quintessentially American flirtation is a revealing footnote to the greater saga of American athletics. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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