Former Sunderland star Lee Howey says he is delighted at the reaction to a new book on his colourful career after it hit the shelves this week.
Entitled “Massively Violent and Decidedly Average”, the Wearside-raised Black Cats fan speaks of his rise from Sunday League player to the top flight of English football in Peter Reid’s 1990s side.
The book was officially launched at the Peacock in Sunderland city centre, with Lee’s former teammate Kevin Ball and BBC Look North’s Jeff Brown also in attendance.
It follows Lee’s rollercoaster career, from being told as an injured teenager at Ipswich that he would never play again; ignoring the injury to play in Belgium, then all the way down to the “feisty” Sunderland Sunday League with Plains Farm WMC.
Just three years later Lee was a Premier League player for the club he “would have died for.”
Lee, who now works in financial services, said: “The night went really well.
“On my website I’ve had people from as far afield as Australia and American ordering.
“Some people who’ve bought the book told me they’ve read it already in two or three days and say they can’t put it down, which is great to hear.”
Lee, whose younger brother Steve also played professionally with Newcastle United and England, added that he was inspired to write the book after seeing bland autobiographies from other former players.
“I want people to understand that it isn’t your typical autobiography,” he said.
“I think in terms of football books, things have got a bit sterile in recent years and they aren’t great to read.
“Maybe it’s something to do with social media these days, but I was playing at a time when you could do and say pretty much what you liked.
“I wasn’t afraid to upset anyone like some are now.”
At the centre of the book is Lee’s pride at being able to turn out for beloved Sunderland when at one stage it looked like he would not be able to turn professional.
“I used to get asked all the time ‘what it’s like to play for Sunderland?’.
“And I would say that I was just like them, a supporter who wanted to pull on the shirt, but I happened to get lucky.
“One minute I was in the crowd at Roker Park and the next I was on the team bus.”
Lee later played for Burnley and Northampton Town before winding down his playing career in the non-league game.
Massively Violent and Decidedly Average, which Lee has written alongside Echo columnist Tony Gillan, is out now, priced at £12.99.
Those wanting a signed copy can visit Lee’s website www.leehowe.wordpress.com.