58100387 The uncensored life of the nation's greatest footballer, and the people who have sought to exploit his gifts. The book they tried to stop.

The English like their lions rough, not smooth. This is the story of the rise and fall and rise again of Wayne Rooney, a boy from the mean streets of broken Britain - few streets meaner than Croxteth in Liverpool - lifted out of poverty by his footballing genius to play for Manchester United and England. On the pitch (most of the time) a hero. Off it, the centrepiece, with his wife Coleen, of perhaps the most vacuous media soap opera of modern times.

Rough, working class, surrounded by an unlikely crew - including a controversial agent, a crooked lawyer, tarts and gangsters - Wayne Rooney was a tabloid angel who became a demon overnight when it was alleged that he'd been having sex with a PVC-clad granny called the Auld Slapper. (There's no serious evidence that ever happened but on Planet Rooney the truth is stranger than fiction.) He shrugged off the abuse and carried on scoring goals. Lots of them. He can be bad-tempered and he can use bad language, but there's no doubting his passion for the beautiful game.

ROONEY'S GOLD looks at the characters who have been attracted to the fabulous money Rooney gets for kicking a ball around a field. Some of them have tainted his gold. Some of them will not enjoy reading this book. One of them - his agent Paul Stretford, fined and banned for nine months by the Football Association - did his best to stop it. John Sweeney's book is certainly no hagiography. Irreverent, hilarious and surprising, ROONEY'S GOLD is a warts-and-all biography of England's most famous sportsman and the iniquities of some of those who have sought their pound of flesh. It's an attack on how Big Money taxes our passion for football and an attack on celebrity culture. But it is, above all, the story of a boy who, despite all the forces pulling him down, rose up to become a hero.