The Secret Footballer is an anonymous football writer who shares interesting insights about the world of football. He has published four successful books and is a regular contributor to theguardian.com and other high-profile media outlets. Due to the success of his books, this has left thousands of people wondering who the Secret Footballer is. Even a website was set up dedicated to solving this mystery. It’s long been speculated that Dave Kitson is the guy behind the identity but it’s not been 100% confirmed. Based on my research all clues point to Kitson but I think there could be other ex-footballers behind the persona. The clues contain too many contradictions for TSF to be one person or maybe he adds in a few red herrings to throw people off track. To be fair, it’s a great marketing ploy!
Secret Footballer Checklist
The following checklist has been compiled based on clues from within his books, articles he wrote for various websites and twitter account.
- He’s English.
- Married and has a daughter.
- Intelligent and articulate, that rules out Phil Neville.
- Played under four different managers, two of them premier league clubs.
- Had a big money transfer where he failed to live up to expectations.
- Played with a group of french-speaking players at a particular club.
- Played with a forward who wouldn’t run unless the ball went where he wanted it to.
- Played under a manager for a long time that lost control of the dressing room.
- Played for a team that experienced financial difficulties.
- Won Player of the Season for two consecutive seasons.
- Had a trial with Millwall.
- Is a Tottenham fan and has a high-opinion of Harry Redknapp.
- Wasn’t playing for Man City or Arsenal at the end of 2010/2011 season.
- Did some punditry work, possibly commentating during a match.
- Not a goalkeeper, this rules out David James.
- Involved in a last-day relegation scrap with a newly promoted club.
- After getting relegated got re-signed by a premier league club the following season.
- Dislikes Chelsea and once got into a scuffle with John Terry.
- Played for a lower league team at the beginning of his career.
- Has an African friend who played for a Russian team.
- Had a roommate with a gambling problem.
- Involved in a transfer on deadline day.
- Got sent off at Old Trafford.
- Battled depression in the past.
- Dave Kitson – I’m 100% sure he’s either the secret footballer or one of the people behind him. His career clearly matches with most of the events and stories mentioned in the books. Also, from watching some of his interviews, he speaks in a manner very similar to TSF’s tone of writing.
- Danny Murphy – Murphy is the second most likely ex-player. An intelligent and articulate pundit on the Match of the day.
- David Bentley – Bentley is a funny outspoken character which is rare in football nowadays. While I was reading the book Bentley was the first footballer that popped into my mind. He has plenty of funny stories and interesting insights to share from his footballing career.
- Scott Parker
- Peter Crouch
- Nicky Shorey
- Kevin Nolan
- Andy Johnson
Other Noteworthy Candidates
- Phil Neville
- Michael Turner
- Jimmy Bullard
- Sol Campbell
- Emile Heskey
- Joe Cole
- Jonathan Woodgate
- Michael Carrick
- Lee Bowyer
- Steve Sidwell
- Dean Whitehead
- Joey Barton
- David Dunn
- Alan Smith
Reasons Why Dave Kitson is the Secret Footballer
The ginger-haired frontman seemed like an unlikely contender at first thought but once I started to dig deeper I soon realised it has to be him!
- Big Dave is English and married.
- Started out playing non-league football with Arlesey Town and played for two teams in the Premier League, Reading and Stoke City.
- Stoke City paid £5.5million for him after Reading were relegated, a club record at the time but the striker only scored 3 goals in goals in 34 appearances.
- Hates Tony Pulis who was in charge of the Potters when they signed him.
- Stoke had a large number of french-speaking players in the squad such as Salif Diao, Henri Camara, Amy Faye and at least five other players.
- Towards the end of his career signed for Portsmouth FC who endured financial difficulties.
- At Reading, Kitson got awarded player of the season for two consecutive seasons.
- Did some punditry work on the Football League Show with Manish Bhasin.
- Was in a last-day relegation scrap with Reading FC.
- John Terry elbowed him not once but twice in a game against Chelsea.
- His old roommate Matthew Etherington had a gambling problem.
- Got sent off at Old Trafford for a lunging tackle on Nani.
- Kitson has discussed his battle with depression in numerous interviews.
- An interview on Channel 4 with the voice restored sounds exactly like Kitson.
The list of possible candidates is endless. Whoever the Secret Footballer is, I love the insights and stories he provides. Maybe one day he will officially reveal his identity or can’t because of potential legal trouble. I personally think it’s Dave Kitson but there is a possibility it’s a combination of Kitson, Murphy and Bentley.