Your report in The Week in Higher Education (28 August) on the student turned professional footballer and the possibility of his prize-winning essay being published (“surely the first academic publication by a current professional footballer”) is not quite correct.
In 1988, when I was managing editor of the journal Leisure Studies, we published “The limitations of economic analysis - the case of professional football”, by Clarke, A. and Madden, L. While Alan Clarke (not the footballer of the same name) was at The Open University, Lawrie Madden was a professional footballer at Sheffield Wednesday (doing a part-time degree, I recall).
Being a devoted editor, I tried to meet my authors whenever possible. The next time Sheffield Wednesday played down in Southampton, I went and had a drink or two with Madden at the team hotel. The next day, I spent 90 difficult minutes watching as he kicked lumps out of Matt Le Tissier and the Wallace brothers, and we ended up losing the game. Regrettably, it was too late by then to withdraw the paper from publication.
Out of interest, Madden scored more goals in his professional career of over 350 appearances as a central defender (13) than the number of times the paper has been cited (7).
Professor of health and community psychology
University of Southampton