"As the co-author of the Ultimate Football Heroes series, I’ve been writing about the real world of football for a few years now. So Johnny Ball: Accidental Football Genius was my big opportunity to move over into the realm of total football fantasy, right? Well, sort of…
Once upon a time, there was a nine-year-old boy who really loved football but wasn’t that good at it, and he had an older brother who was a MUCH better player than him. His name was Matt and then, 22 years later, along came Johnny! But that’s where our similarities end, I swear (Mum, you’re nowhere near as super-embarrassing as Johnny’s mum, I promise! Dad, as far as I know there’s nothing wrong with your right ankle and Tom, you’re waaaay nicer than Daniel).
Sadly, I don’t have Johnny’s football genius (or his charming ways either, for that matter), but I’ve always been fascinated by the people that do. Over the years, I’ve often wondered, ‘Where do the great football managers come from?’ What were they like as kids? When did they first discover their special talent, and when and how did they get their first opportunity to show it?
It was those questions that led me to start writing Johnny Ball: Accidental Football Genius. I first came up with the character of Johnny about five years ago, although he’s changed a lot since then, with help from my incredible editor, Daisy. For example, he accidentally ended up working as an assistant to a hopeless football manager called Mr Mann, and then found himself a wise old mentor called Grandpa George.
But let me tell you a bit more about the beginning. I’ll start off with a confession – I really love notebooks (I guess that’s probably why Johnny has one too, although mine don’t have my initials on. No Mum, that’s not a hint!). Any size, any colour, but always lined and preferably Moleskine. This is just a tiny part of my notebook collection: