Football fans can meet one of their local heroes when he launches his memoir next week.
Sunderland-born Lee Howey was forced to quit the professional game through injury as a teenager before rebuilding his career in the Sunday leagues and eventually starring for his home-town club in the Premier League.
His book, Massively Violent and Decidedly Average, is now on sale with supporters invited to buy signed copies at the official launch next week.
Howey’s story is an inspiration to any talented young footballers of today who suffer similar setbacks.
After catching the eye as a prolific goalscorer for St Cuthbert’s Primary School and St Aidan’s Comprehensive School, he signed as an apprentice for Ipswich Town, then a top-flight club, before he was told by a knee specialist that his career was finished.
Spells in Belgium, the Northern League and with Plains Farm in the Sunderland Sunday League followed before he returned to the professional game at the comparatively late age of 23.
Eventually moving back from centre forward to centre half, Howey was part of Peter Reid’s 1996 promotion-winning side and enjoyed one year in the Premier League marking the likes of Newcastle United’s Alan Shearer and Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler.
He left for Burnley after Sunderland’s relegation back to Division One in 1997 before ending his league career with Northampton Town.
The book is published by Biteback, whose authors include a wealth of politicians and entertainers such as Nigel Farage and Maureen Lipman, with the publishers themselves describing it as “hilarious, moving, beautifully written and certainly a cut above the usual football memoir”.
Howey, 48, now living near Seaham and working in financial services, said: “I toyed with the idea of writing a book for years.
“It was my wife Maz who finally persuaded me. It’s wonderful that a publisher like Biteback has taken it up.
“I wasn’t the biggest name of the 1990s or one of the greatest players. But great players don’t necessarily write the best books.”
Monday’s launch takes place upstairs at The Peacock pub, in Sunderland city centre, from 7.30pm.
Written with assistance from Echo columnist Tony Gillan, the book costs £12.99p.
Signed copies are also available via www.leehowey.wordpress.com.