The story as told by those who have lived and are living it (Series – Part 5)
This is the fifth and last article of our series “The story as told by those who have lived and are living it” (see all articles of this series here), which provides you with different perspectives on the project with the same title. The following guest post was written by Keith Cooper, a British journalist, very well known in the sports industry. Keith spent months and months digging into our history, interviewing some 140 people who witnessed the adidas story first-hand. But most importantly he put the whole story together, which was a huge challenge if you look at the amount of information Keith had to “digest”.
“The adidas story was even longer, more complex, more intriguing than I had realised” (guest post by Keith Cooper)
When someone asks you if you would like to write a book about adidas, work together with a committed group of friendly professionals, travel around a bit and meet a few heroes from the sporting world, and finish up with a unique insight into one of the most fascinating companies in the world, you don’t take long to decide. That’s what happened in early 2008 (it seems a lifetime away already!) and there have been many, many very long days and very late nights, several revisions and alterations and re-thinks, and yes, a few frustrations too, mostly because one or two of the interviews have inevitably been overtaken by subsequent events. But this has been an extraordinary project to be part of.
I’d known adidas from the inside after having worked for ten years for ISL Marketing, as one of the original five people in the company that Horst Dassler founded in 1982. I knew Horst and admired him greatly, on both a personal and professional level. The ISL-adidas link meant I also worked alongside many adidas managers at that time, from Landersheim as well as Herzogenaurach, and so when I settled down to prepare to write this book, I thought I had a head start. But I was only partly right: the adidas story was even longer, more complex, more intriguing than I had realised. A great story to research, a fascinating story to write, and − I hope − a terrific story to read.
Focussing is key to explore the wealth of stories (…and a tough thing to do)
When I heard that for this book I would be sitting down with sporting idols like Steffi Graf, Rod Laver, Daley Thompson, Nadia Comaneci, Kevin Pietersen and Jonny Wilkinson, as well as more familiar footballers such as Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini, David Beckham and Zinédine Zidane, it was like having Christmas and ten birthdays at once. One personal regret, though: no room for the great Steven Gerrard of the incomparable Reds of Liverpool.
There is an anecdote attached to virtually every one of those 140-plus interviews. We’ve tried to incorporate as many as the book’s 650 pages would allow, but there’s still a wealth of stories behind the stories. Maybe we should produce a book about the book. But here’s this one anecdote, with a picture, that had nothing to do with the book itself. In late 2009 my wife Sally and I went snorkelling in the marine reserve around the little island of Bunaken in northern Indonesia. I needed a break from the interviews and the writing; I had adidas coming out of my ears. But even on a remote beach on an island off another island on the other side of the world, the 3-Stripes were there waiting for me….