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Paul Kimmage to ghost Brian O'Driscoll autobiography for Penguin Ireland

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Award-winning writer Paul Kimmage is to ghost the autobiography of Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning rugby captain, Brian O’Driscoll.

Dublin-born Kimmage, who recently won the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year prize for Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson, has been signed up as part of the deal that landed Penguin Ireland the O’Driscoll story.

O’Driscoll, who was voted world player of the decade by Rugby World magazine in January 2010, is one of only two men to captain Ireland to a Grand Slam.  He has also led them to four Triple Crown triumphs and is Irish rugby’s all-time highest international try scorer with 46.

Kimmage, who recently left the Sunday Times, said he was honoured by the invitation to write O’Driscoll’s book. "It's incredibly flattering to be asked to do it,” he said. “Brian is one of our (Ireland’s) genuine superstars.”

Yet admirers of the 38-year-old former professional cyclist will not be at all surprised at Penguin’s eagerness to have him work with O’Driscoll.

Having established his credentials as a writer when Rough Ride, in which he lifted the lid on cycling’s doping culture, was named William Hill Sports Book of the Year in 1990, Kimmage entered journalism with the Sunday Independent in Ireland before moving to the Sunday Times in 2003, subsequently winning the Sports Journalists’ Association’s Interviewer of the Year award five times in a row.

It was after an interview with Matt Hampson, the England under-21 rugby prop who was left paralysed by a training ground accident, that he wrote Engage, which had been favourite to land him a second William Hill prize last year before the judges plumped for A Life Too Short, the tragic story for former Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke.

No publication date has been set for Brian O’Driscoll’s book. The 32-year-old outside centre is currently sidelined by a shoulder injury that has ruled him out of this year’s Six Nations championship.   But he hopes to tour Australia with the British and Irish Lions next year and has told Kimmage he does not want the book to be released before he retires.

Penguin believe they will have a winner on their hands whenever it comes out.

"Brian is a remarkable sportsman and has been an outstanding ambassador for Ireland both on and off the pitch,” the Penguin Ireland managing director, Michael McLoughlin, said. “We expect this autobiography to be an enormous bestseller."

It is Penguin Ireland’s second O’Driscoll book, following on from A Year in the Centre, published in 2005, which was a diary of the 2004-05 season, a painful one for the player in that it ended with serious injury in the first Test against New Zealand in Christchurch.

Also by Paul Kimmage:

Rough Ride: Behind the Wheel with a Pro Cyclist
Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino
Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson

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