In the era of millionaire footballers, fast cars and easy living, it is incredible to think that just over two decades ago the footballing world was such a different place.
Black and Blue tells the story of Paul Canoville, Chelsea's first black player, who was hounded by his own fans on his debut at Crystal Palace in 1982, and long afterwards because of the colour of his skin.
It is an unpleasant memory of a time when the N-word was commonplace, especially on the terraces of Stamford Bridge, but then it is supposed to be. Canoville endured some of the most horrific racism in the sport and was ultimately driven out of the club following a confrontation with an (unnamed) player who showered him with racist abuse and attacked him with a golf club - leaving for Reading in 1986.
The effect on his life is told in harrowing detail. 390-odd pages that attempt to sum up the pain that the vile taunts and violence inflicted upon a young footballer's career. In fact, his career was all too brief - ended at the age of 24 after a bad knee injury; but his descent into homelessness, drugs and premature fatherhood ensured that his life after football was even harder.
With eleven children by ten different woman, Canoville's story is one that tugs at the heart strings. A struggle to survive in a world that does not accept you for who you are and a shocking portrayal of what can happen to you if you slip off the rails.
A crack addiction, a fractured family life and the emptiness of life without football all contributed to Canoville's downfall, but he suffered an even crueller blow with a diagnosis of lymph cancer and subsequent chemotherapy.
Battling back from everything that the world could throw at him, the book is ultimately an uplifting story of how Canoville turned his life around to become an icon against racism. While he will never forget the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Chelsea fans, sadly it played just a small part in a life that was littered with trials and tribulations.
His story defies belief, but he is able to find something positive out it and the final words sum up a man who has stared destruction in the face and emerged stronger as a result: ''I never said I was an angel. I'm just human, but please try not to let this happen to you.''
• Old Spitalfields Market will be challenging football hopefuls to test their skills against legendary Chelsea footballers on Thursday 25 August, including Paul Canoville. For more information on Old Spitalfields Market, visit: www.oldspitalfieldsmarket.com