This is my review of the top 12 best football books out for Christmas.

So, you think you know Joey Barton. Think again. No nonsense is  a game-changing autobiography  which will redefine the most fascinating figure in British football.  Those few words start you off and get you gripped straight away. You want to find out more and keep reading. That is why I decided to put this list together of the best Football books for you to read, but are they books worth reading?

Tis the season to be jolly and be kind to all, that means I have taken all the hard work out of scouring through lists and lists of books looking for the perfect one for a person who loves Football and loves to read.

Yes Christmas is upon us again it soon comes around and you find yourself frantically trying to collect those perfect gifts for your loved ones. If you are like me then this can prove to be a problem. The big question is what to buy them?  If they love to read about sport and particularly football then this review might be the answer for you.

I have gathered the best football books and worked them into some kind of order and simplified the process for you, so you can look down the list and say I bet that one would be a good read for whom ever you had in mind.

I don’t know about you but I love finding a stocking filler hand delivered by Santa all wrapped up in Christmas paper and it turns out to be a brand new book.  The smell of it, the curiosity of what its all about?

If you know someone that loves football then look no further than this list.

What makes it into my best  twelve list?  I have based it on customer reviews.  Is it a bestseller?  How expensive is the price and who or what the book is about?

What makes a good football book?

It is often said that 95% of what happens in football takes place behind closed doors. Many of these stories I shouldn’t be telling you. But I will.  Who is The Secret Footballer?  When you as the reader open a page and start to read it you are gripped and it soon becomes a page turner.  Something that makes you not want to put the book down.

How and why does this happen?

As a fan of football it’s usually about someone you have heard a lot about.  A big personality, who you want to find out more about, what’s their life been like?  How they got to where they are today?  It’s fun to get to know them and learn all about them.

Another good reason to read their book is will they spill the beans and give us some controversy?  What do I mean by this? Lets say for instance this person who the book is about had a bust up with a player in the dressing room, but due to still playing they could not let the cat out the bag and tell us about what happened, but its years later now and guess what?  They can say whatever they want.  From my point of view I say go for it, tell me all.

When you see this list I have gathered together, you will find I have just about covered all those criteria and probably more. The personalities are larger than life, each with an amazing  story to tell.


Why only twelve books?

This is a question that I asked myself many times when compiling this list. It was a hard decision as there are hundreds of good football books about, how do you decide?

The simple answer is this.  I was originally going to make it a top 10 best books but two more came to mind that I just could not leave out and that makes 12.

As it’s time to be jolly look out for the extra surprise at the end of this list…( a little teaser just for you!)

I hope you find it simple and easy to look at this top 12 list, rather than scrolling thorough 1000’s of books getting yourself more confused by the minute.

Football is my passion so it was fun for me to do this for you and take some of the strain out of shopping for that special stocking filler.

Will you keep it under wraps until the big day?

Everybody loves a surprise and a present no matter how they much they tell you they are not bothered. especially at Christmas time.  Will you find a good hiding place? Will you be able to get those gifts all wrapped up and keep them as a surprise until the big day arrives?

Then sit back and watch that big smile appear on their face when they tear off the Christmas wrapping paper and see a brand new book to read.  One they will love

Here you are at last….my favourite Football books all wrapped up for you…HO HO HO…



1: Peter Crouch – How to be a footballer

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You become a footballer because you love football and then you are a footballer, and you’re suddenly in the strangest, most baffling world of all. A world where one team-mate comes to training in a bright red suit with matching top-hat, cane and glasses, without any actual glass in them, and another has so many sports cars they forget they have left a Porsche at the train station, even when their surname is incorporated in the registration plate.

So walk with me into the dressing-room, to find out which players refuse to touch a football before a game, to discover why a load of millionaires never have any shower-gel, and to hear what Cristiano Ronaldo says when he looks at himself in the mirror.

We will go into post-match interviews, make fools of ourselves on social media and try to ensure that we never again pay £250 for a haircut that should have cost a tenner. We’ll be coached and cajoled by Harry Redknapp, upset Rafa Benitez and be soothed by the sound of an accordion played by Sven-Goran Eriksson’s assistant Tord Grip. There will be some very bad music and some very bad decisions.

I am Peter Crouch. This is How To Be A Footballer. Shall we?

(all words above subject to  copyright from the Peter Crouch book- how to be a footballer)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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2: Michael Carrick – Between the lines

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‘The whistle blows and I set off for the one kick I know will stay with me for the rest of my life, maybe even define my life…’

Michael Carrick was the heartbeat of Manchester United. For more than a decade he was the player that made them tick. Loved by his managers, lauded by his fellow professionals, worshipped by the Old Trafford faithful, yet regularly misunderstood by the wider public, Carrick was a player like no other.

Intelligent, calm, thoughtful – in many ways the opposite of the archetypal English midfielder – Carrick has always been his own man and is typically forthright. In his book he reveals what it’s really like to win relentlessly under legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson, shows us the hidden secrets of the famous Carrington training ground, invites us to experience the camaraderie and clashes inside the United dressing room, and lets us feels what it’s like to walk out on the Old Trafford pitch alongside some of the biggest names in the game – from Ronaldo to Scholes to Giggs, Rooney and the rest.

A deeply personal book, Between the Lines reveals for the first time Michael’s battles with mental health, his struggles with the national side, as well as the redemption he has found with his family and his team.

From growing up in the north-east to winning the Champions League and five Premier League titles with Manchester United, via West Ham and Tottenham, Carrick’s story reveals him to be his own man: fearless, thoughtful, intelligent and honest.

*All of Michael Carrick’s proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the Michael Carrick Foundation, dedicated to providing financial support to community services that will give underprivileged children living in the North and North East better opportunities so that they feel safe, valued and inspired.*

(all words above subject to copyright from the Michael Carrick book – between the lines)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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3: Kevin Keegan – My life in Football

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Kevin Keegan is one of the greatest players in English football history, famed for his style on the pitch, his relentless ambition and passion for the game.

‘And I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it!!!’
Kevin Keegan, 1996
In My Life in Football Keegan tells the story of his remarkable rise through the sport, from the Peglers Brass Works reserve team in Doncaster to helping Liverpool become the kings of Europe, winning a Bundesliga title with Hamburg and captaining England. Keegan was recognised around the world as one of the sport’s genuine superstars and remains the only Englishman to win the Ballon d’Or twice.

As a manager, Keegan’s five-year spell in charge at Newcastle is now legendary; he led the club from the depths of the old Second Division to the brink of the Premier League title with a breathtaking vision and flamboyant style that saw his team dubbed ‘The Entertainers’.

Fifty years since making his professional debut, Keegan tells the full story of the exhilarating highs and excruciating lows, from that epic battle with Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United in the 1995-6 season, as well as the pain of managing England and, finally, the shattering truth about his unhappy return to Newcastle in the controversial Mike Ashley era.

Brilliant, funny, passionate, deeply moving and incredibly honest, My Life in Football is the story of the miner’s son from Doncaster who became a superstar and was known to his adoring fans as ‘King Kev’

(all words above subject to copyright from the Kevin Keegan book- my life in football)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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4: Joey Barton – No Nonsence

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The Sunday Times bestseller is ‘brilliant, gripping, beautifully written, real,’ says Jonathan Northcroft.

So, you think you know Joey Barton. Think again. No Nonsense is a game-changing autobiography which will redefine the most fascinating figure in British football. It is the raw yet redemptive story of a man shaped by rejection and the consequences of his mistakes. He has represented England, and been a pivotal player for Manchester City, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Marseille, Burnley and Glasgow Rangers, but his career has featured recurring controversy. The low point of being sent to prison for assault in 2008 proved to be the catalyst for the re-evaluation of his life.

No Nonsense reflects Barton’s character – it is candid, challenging, entertaining and intelligent. He does not spare himself, in revealing the formative influences of a tough upbringing in Liverpool, and gives a survivor’s insight into a game which, to use his phrase, ‘eats people alive’. The book is emotionally driven, and explains how he has redirected his energies since the birth of his children. In addition to dealing with his past, he expands on his plans for the future. In this updated edition he speaks frankly about the gambling addiction that has left him facing a hefty ban. The millions who follow his commentaries on social media, and those who witnessed him on BBC’s Question Time, will be given another reason to pause, and look beyond the caricature.

‘Compelling’ Donald McRae, Guardian

‘Brilliant’ Matt Lawton, Daily Mail

(all words above subject to copyright from the Joey Barton book -no nonsense)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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5: Klopp – Bring the noise

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‘I like the total intensification, when there are crashes and bangs everywhere, pure adrenaline and no one being able to breathe’

Jürgen Klopp’s super-sized personality and all-or-nothing style of football and management made him the perfect choice to pump up the volume at Anfield. The appointment sparked hysteria in the city with fans and club officials delighted to get the coach they’d long admired from afar and eager to see the impact he would have on the club and the Premier League.

With exclusive access to Klopp’s friends, family, colleagues and players, Raphael Honigstein goes behind-the-scenes at Liverpool, Mainz and Dortmund to tell the definitive story of Klopp’s career, transformative footballing genius and how he is bringing the noise to Anfield.
Klopp’s the manager to turn players into winners, to get that little bit more from them and transform teams like mid-table Borussia Dortmund into title winners and one of Europe’s most acclaimed sides in just two seasons.

He’s authentic, approachable and funny, charming media and fans alike. He’s also merciless and exceptionally driven, his quick temper bubbling away barely under the surface.

Expectations have been high and even when results haven’t gone their way, Liverpool’s exciting football and Klopp’s pitch-side passion have enthralled, culminating in a triumphant return to Champions League football.

Klopp follows his story from its Black Forest beginnings, as a player with ‘fifth division skills and a first division brain’, his accidental fall into management and the success at Mainz and Dortmund which paved the way to Anfield.

(all words above subject to copyright from the Jurgen Klopp book – bring the noise)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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6: Jon Parkin – Feed the beast

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With 19 spells at various clubs in the Football League, Jon Parkin has cut an instantly recognisable figure in English football for the past 20 years. At 6’4 and weighing in as one of football’s heavyweights, Parkin has played more than 600 games during his time with Barnsley, Hartlepool, York, Macclesfield Town, Hull City, Stoke City, Preston, Cardiff, Doncaster, Huddersfield, Scunthorpe, Fleetwood, Forest Green, Newport County and back to York where he is currently top scorer. This is his no-holds barred life story.

(all words above subject to copyright from the Jon Parkin book- feed the beast)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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7: Martin Edwards – Red Glory

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The definitive insider’s story of life behind the scenes and within the corridors of power at the biggest football club in the world.

When Martin Edwards became chairman of Manchester United in 1980, the club’s estimated worth was £2 million. When he retired just over two decades later the club was valued at £1 billion. Under his expert business stewardship, Manchester United grew into one of the world’s most recognized sporting brands and the richest and most famous football club on the planet.

Martin shares a multitude of wonderful memories and amazing stories and revelations of the great success story of United. He singled out Alex Ferguson as a future manager of the Reds and had the determination and courage to stand by his choice when everybody else, both inside and outside of the club, were calling for his head.

Martin Edwards is one of the great football chairmen who oversaw Manchester United as the club achieved its greatest successes and dominated domestic football. This autobiography of the former chairman and current life president presents a fascinating insight into English football’s most successful club.

(all words above subject to copyright from the Martin Edwards book – red glory)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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8: Anonymous – The Secret footballer

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This updated edition of the bestselling and wildly popular I Am the Secret Footballer features a new introduction and an additional chapter. The anonymous writer of The Guardian’s “Secret Footballer” column gives Premier League fans an insider’s look into the unseen world of professional football.

It is often said that 95% of what happens in football takes place behind closed doors. Many of these stories I shouldn’t be telling you. But I will.
Who is The Secret Footballer? Only a few people know the true identity of the man inside the game. Whoever he is-and whatever team he plays for-TSF is always honest, fearless and opinionated. Here he takes readers past the locker-room door and reveals the inner-workings of a professional club, the exhilarating highs and crushing lows and what it’s really like to do the job most of us can only dream of doing.

TSF chronicles the exploits of his Premiership colleagues with a gimlet eye and frank humour. Managers, agents and players are not spared from his observations-their mindsets, their relationships with those outside the sport, their behaviour good and bad. In his inimitable style, TSF recounts entertaining and eyebrow-raising vignettes, naming names and dropping colourful details along the way.

(all words above subject to copyright from the Book I am the secret footballer)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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9: Gary Speed – Unspoken

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‘Masterly work by John Richardson’ (Brian Reade, Daily Mirror). Gary Speed’s tragic death on November 27th, 2011, rocked the football world. Aged just 42, he was found hanged in the garage of his home. As a long-standing legend of the game and manager of Wales, he appeared to have everything to live for. Now, as he would have approached his 50th birthday, wife Louise opens her heart for the first time and talks in depth about her life with Gary, publishing revealing letters from their early days together. Mum Carol and Dad Roger also recall their beloved son. And a multitude of famous names from the game remember their friend and speak emotionally about how the tragedy has touched their own lives. Publishers’ note: Louise Speed is not receiving proceeds from this book. At her request, donations are being made to the Heads Together campaign, which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues.

(all words above subject to copyright from the Gary Speed book – Unspoken)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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10: Howard Webb – The Man in the Middle

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Webb’s first game as a match official came when he was just 18 and his father’s verdict was blunt: ‘Useless – he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow.’ It wasn’t the last time his performance would come under fire. But Webb progressed through the ranks, and his natural calm authority made a good impression on players and administrators alike, and soon he was being offered the top matches and the toughest fixtures.

The policeman went on to take charge of some of the most important games, including the 2009 FA Cup final, the 2010 Champions League final and – the biggest of the lot – the 2010 World Cup final. Now, in this superb and frank memoir, Howard Webb reveals what it is like to be at the heart of the action in modern-day football where every decision can be unpicked by television cameras. He explains how he learned to handle some of the game’s superstars. Refereeing is a hard business, but Webb shows just why he enjoyed it so much and provides fascinating insights into how he dealt with the most challenging situations.

With his unique perspective, and the characteristic honesty and humour he has displayed as a pundit on BT Sport, Webb has written a book that reveals the game – and the man himself – in a new light.

‘Genuinely fascinating insight into the difficulties of officiating in the modern game, and Webb’s frankness and self-deprecation are to be commended’ When Saturday Comes

(all words above subject to copyright from the Howard Webb book – the man in the middle)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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11: Ian Wright – A Life In Football:

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‘Wrighty’s characteristic honesty means his book is far more engrossing than most bland football memoirs’ Sunday Times

Ian Wright, Arsenal legend, England striker and TV pundit extraordinaire, is one of the most interesting and relevant figures in modern football.

His journey from a South London council estate to national treasure is everybody’s dream. From Sunday morning football directly to Crystal Palace; from ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ to inside the Wenger Revolution; from Saturday afternoons on the pitch to Saturday evenings on primetime television; from a week in prison to inspiring youth offenders, Ian will reveal all about his extraordinary life and career.

Ian will also frankly discuss how retirement affects footballers, why George Graham deserves a statue, social media, why music matters, breaking Arsenal’s goal-scoring record, racism, the unadulterated joy of playing alongside Dennis Bergkamp and, of course, what he thinks of Tottenham.

Not a standard footballer’s autobiography, Ian Wright’s memoir is a thoughtful and gripping insight into a Highbury Hero and one of the greatest sports stars of recent years.

(all words above subject to copyright from the Ian wright book- a life in football)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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12: Guillem Balague – Brave New World

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The Sunday Times Bestseller

The exclusive behind-the-scenes story of the Mauricio Pochettino revolution at Spurs, told in his own words

Since joining the club in 2014, Mauricio Pochettino has transformed Tottenham from underachievers into genuine title contenders. In the process, he has marked himself out as one of the best managers in the world. He has done so by promoting an attacking, pressing style of football and by nurturing home-grown talent, fully endearing himself to the Spurs faithful along the way.

Guillem Balagué was granted unprecedented access to Pochettino and his backroom staff for the duration of the 2016-17 season, and was therefore able to draw on extensive interview material with Pochettino, his family, his closest assistants, players such as Dele Alli and Harry Kane, and even a very rare conversation with Daniel Levy to tell the manager’s story in his own words. From Pochettino’s early years as a player and coach to his transformation of Tottenham into one of the best teams in England, the book uniquely reveals the inner workings of the man and of his footballing philosophy. It also lays bare what it takes to run a modern-day football team competing at the highest level over the course of a single campaign. The result is the most comprehensive and compelling portrait of a manager and of a club in the Premier League era.

(all words above subject to copyright from the Guillen Balague book – brave new world)

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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Surprise…plus one extra for luck…a must read!


13. Paul Merson – How not to be a professional Footballer

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An anecdote-driven narrative of the classic footballer’s ‘DOs and DO NOTs’ from the ever-popular Arsenal legend and football pundit Paul Merson, aka ‘The Merse’.

When it comes to advice on the pitfalls of life as a professional footballer, Paul Merson can pretty much write the manual. In fact, that’s exactly what he’s done in this hilarious new book which manages to be simultaneously poignant and gloriously funny.

Merson was a prodigiously talented footballer in the 80s and 90s, gracing the upper echelons of the game – and the tabloid front pages – with his breathtakingly skills and larger-than-life off-field persona.

His much-publicised battles with gambling, drug and alcohol addiction are behind him now, and football fans continue to be drawn to his sharp footballing brain and playful antics on SkySports cult results show Soccer Saturday.

The book delights and entertains with a treasure chest of terrific anecdotes from a man who has never lost his love of football and his inimitable joie de vivre through a 25-year association with the Beautiful Game.

The DO NOTs include:
DO NOT adopt ‘Champagne’ Charlie Nicholas as your mentor
DO NOT share a house with Gazza
DO NOT regularly place £30,000 bets at the bookie’s
DO NOT get so drunk that you can’t remember the 90 minutes of football you just played in
DO NOT manage Walsall (at any cost)

How Not to be a Professional Footballer is a hugely entertaining, moving and laugh-out-loud funny story.

(all words above subject to copyright from the Paul Merson book -how not to be a professional footballer )

(None of these words  directly above are my own I am using them  for promotion purposes of this book only)

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The end

All good books finish with those highly memorable words and its the same for this list and article.

I thank you for taking the time to reading it and I do hope you enjoyed it and found it useful.

Thank you for checking out my list of best football books about at the moment.

If you have any thought or comments about this article then please leave then below

Best wishes….and a Merry Christmas to you all


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Jay · 06/11/2018 at 1:21 pm

Great list. I can tell you that this came as a surprise because I am a die hard football fan but I have never taught that there were actually books that were written by footballers talking about football on the pitch and things that happen outside the field. They all seem like what a lot of football fans would enjoy reading. Thanks for the recommendations

    Matthew Hofman · 07/11/2018 at 5:18 am

    hi Jay. thank you for the excellent comments and for taking the time to reply.  It is always a good read when the thoughts and ideas come form the person who is an established personality within the game of football. There knowledge helps people understand what really happens in the game of football.

    take care and best wishes


Renton · 06/11/2018 at 1:10 pm

Great Post! I think that autobiographies can be more interesting than fiction or other genres because of the fact that they are being told by the actual person who lived what you are reading. I think there is more to the lives of these guys than football and that is also very interesting.

Their books are a reflection of hoe they see their lives and basically the highlights that have defined them as people. I think it is also nice to see football stars and heroes as actual humans rather than just football machines. It really shows them in a different light and can help the common man to relate to them. 

I think I would definitely like to read Peter Crouches autobiography it sounds like a good read.

    Matthew Hofman · 07/11/2018 at 5:24 am

    Hi Renton.  I tend to agree with you I love to read autobiographies they always give you a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes in football. If its from a person who has been there and done it, they have first hand knowledge of the world of football. Which when you read any form this list you will find out is a crazy world and very funny at times.

    Thank you for taking the time to leave me a message

    Best wishes


Richard Hoffmann · 06/11/2018 at 1:04 pm

Hello Matthew,

I have been a football lover most of my life and Peter Crouch was one of those guys you could spot from a mile away because of his gangling looks. But that look made him a formidable foe as a guy who could score repeatedly with well placed headers on the basis that he was just so much taller than all the other players. 

He is know to be somewhat of a joker so I am interested to see if that humour comes out in his Bio aswell.


    Matthew Hofman · 07/11/2018 at 5:28 am

    Hi Rich.  It’s hard to go unnoticed when you are over 7 feet tall like Peter Crouch is. It is good to get to know guys like this when the decide to write a book and his is very funny. He comes across as a top man and very interesting from this book..

    Thank you for leaving me a message

    Best wishes

Nigel Robinson · 06/11/2018 at 1:02 pm

I’d be interested to read about Howard Webb, as he’ll give a much different perspective than football players. A referee’s perspective is so different. I read Dickie Bird’s autobiography many years ago with was extremely enlightening. I’d image this book would be in a similar vain. Best I check it out.

    Matthew Hofman · 07/11/2018 at 5:33 am

    Hi Nigel.  Howard Webb is an interesting man. Yes I agree with you always good to get the perspective from the referees point of view. It is probably the hardest job in football and doing it at the top level under that sort of pressure for many years gives him has a unique view point of what happens in football.

    Thank you for taking the time to leave me a message

    take care and best wishes

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