When Wayne rings me from the England coach after a game, or from his hotel room in Baden-Baden, I have this image of all the players sitting like school kids doing their homework. They speak with one hand over their mouths so no one can overhear. When writing, they have one arm over the page, so no one can copy. If they get desperate and can't think of what to say, they'll ask the person in the next seat or desk: "Come on, I helped you, I'm stuck, how much have you done, creep." "Oh no, not fair, that's cheating."
I did give Wayne, on his departure to Germany, an ever-so-artistic little notebook, pretty cover, not cheap, and a list of about 20 topics and questions to address each day, plus instructions to collect any leaflets for his scrapbook. I did this for many years with my own children when they went off on school camps. Wayne did smile, when I handed it over, and said he would try to fill it in.
I am pretty confident that he has not written a bleedin' word, nor even opened the notebook, but he has been fairly good at ringing me. The trouble is, because he has been The Story for so many weeks, a lot of the stuff he tells me for his book has been getting into the papers a few days later. And probably into other people's books.
There are at least five players working on their autobiographies at this World Cup. Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole are doing books for Headline; Frank Lampard and Wayne for HarperCollins; Stevie Gerrard for Bantam. There may be others I don't know about.
Unlike World Cups of the past, there has been a noticeable absence of first-person diaries by any of England's players in the newspapers. Every national paper used to have one, even when they were rubbish. I'd imagined it was …