Advent Calendar – 14th December: Paul Lake

With Advent now under way and the countdown to Christmas now on, Typical City is looking at an incident, player or match specific to the club that corresponds with each date. In today’s edition, Alex takes a look at Paul Lake and spins off on a bit of a tangent from there…

Paul Lake wore the number 14 shirt for a bit and that’s all the excuse I need to talk about him. This won’t be much about Lake as a footballer as I am not old enough to properly remember his heyday. Apparently he was very good, a future England captain and City legend in the making.

What I want to talk about instead is the other half of his life.

Lake famously suffered awful, repeated injuries to his ligaments which, together with external factors such as offensively gross negligence from Peter Swales/City, put paid to a promising career before it really got going.

What came after is the story of a man who hit rock bottom and then kept finding further depths of misery.

His remarkable biography I’m Not Really Here, pulls no punches as his story of heartbreak plays out. It is an essential read for any football fan, City or not.

As I said above, I do not know him as a footballer. I know Paul Lake as a man who was forced to battle demons he could never have expected to face. I know him as a man who has been through immense suffering and misfortune and was often very, very alone and on the edge of having his life truly melt down.

I also know him as a man who found a way through all of that and managed to move on and forge a different kind of success and a new life.

The young prodigy who had the world at his feet trained as a physiotherapist to help other players through injury and to continue their careers. He worked as a City in the Community ambassador and now fulfils a similar role for the Premier League.

It baffles me how he managed to retain his enthusiasm for the game and for a club which essentially abandoned him, all while fighting to get himself back to a healthy place and carry on with his life. I find Lake to be an inspiring person and that is more than enough excuse to briefly salute him this Christmas season.

Buy his book, it’s good.

And on the subject of Christmas, the holiday season can be a very difficult time for people with mental health issues. Loneliness, stress, families which don’t work as they’re meant to, homelessness, poverty and so on and so on. Make sure to stay in touch with your loved ones where possible and try to extend a hand to people who are suffering.

And if you yourself are suffering don’t forget that there are people who can help.

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Written by Alex Timperley

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