• The Greatest

  • The Quest for Sporting Perfection
  • By: Matthew Syed
  • Narrated by: Simon Slater
  • Length: 9 hrs and 29 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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The Greatest  By  cover art

The Greatest

By: Matthew Syed
Narrated by: Simon Slater
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Publisher's Summary

What can Roger Federer teach us about the secret of longevity? What do the All Blacks have in common with improvised jazz musicians? What can cognitive neuroscientists tell us about what happens to the brains of sportspeople when they perform? And why did Johan Cruyff believe that beauty was more important than winning?

Matthew Syed, the Sports Journalist of the Year 2016, answers these questions and more in a fascinating, wide-ranging and provocative book about the mental game of sport. How do we become the best that we can be as individuals, teams and organisations? Sport, with its innate sense of drama, its competitive edge, its psychological pressures, its sense of morality and its elusive quest for perfection, provides the answers.

©2017 Matthew Syed (P)2017 Hodder & Stoughton

What listeners say about The Greatest

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Repetitive, and very long winded.

I have read his other book, black box thinking and i felt this book was just repeating many of the facts.

If you haven't listened to his other books you might like this. But it just goes over the same topics and doesn't really offer anything new.

Ive returned the book.

2 people found this helpful

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Heard this all before, and from the same writer

If you've read Syed's other books -- Black Box Thinking, Bounce -- then you'll find nothing new here. Were it not for that fact, I'd probably give this three, or maybe even four, stars. The things he covers -- the mental approach to the game, etc. -- are interesting, but he already wrote about it. Imagine if Michael Lewis wrote a sequel to Moneyball that was almost exactly like Moneyball. The only reason to read it would be if you didn't read the original. So, if you haven't read Syed before, then I guess this is worth a listen. Though you're better off listening to his other books. Especially Black Box Thinking.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-08-18

Disappointed,the book doesn't really go anywhere.

For me, this book disappointed. I was very excited by the title and the opening part was engaging. However, it never then kicked off. It was just a series of anecdotal stories from various sports at a top level which never really hung together. I was expecting each story to link into an overall story of how the greatest become the greatest. Maybe it did, but this didn't come across to me in an engaging or clear way.
There were a few interesting nuggets from the stories, but nothing that wowed me.
The reader of this book also kept putting on a weird American accent to quote various sportsman which I actually found very irritating. The summery of my comments above meant I ended up listening to the final third of this book in 1.6x speed just to get through it. I very nearly just gave in which I never do...

4 people found this helpful

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  • PMeehan
  • 02-25-18

A collection of previously-written articles

Any additional comments?

Having not read any previous of Matthew Syed's work, I was disappointed to discover that rather than a book, it was a collection of articles that Syed had previously written all on the same theme.

He leaned heavily on his experience as a world-class table tennis youth, perhaps a bit too much, as it seemed like he was desperate for people to know that as a youngster, he was one of the best in the world.

The articles were very time-specific to World Cups, Six Nations, Wimbledon tournaments and didn't really stand up like other sporting books that I've read.

Overall I was very disappointed by this book and only listened to a couple of hours of the audiobook.

2 people found this helpful

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  • BEHNAZ
  • 03-13-17

repetition and nothing

I am disappointed, I listened to two other books of the author and was expecting more! but most of the stories are repeated from the old books and there is no clear message and full of contradictory stories!

2 people found this helpful

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  • CraigB
  • 03-08-17

Not as impressive as previous books but still very enjoyable

This is an easy listen and while not as detailed as his previous books in terms of in depth analyses etc - it is still a very enjoyable book. A lot of this is based on articles from his work at the Times. If you love sport and Matthew's approach to analysing what makes people successful then you will enjoy this.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ian Palmer
  • 09-20-22

A good compilation.

I enjoyed this book, and I am a fan of Matthew Syed’s. Some of the material in this book is found in his other books but never the less good to listen to. I found the narrator good, although if I am honest I must say, I found the pretend accents a bit cringe worthy and annoying. Overall, very good.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-18-21

Well read and entertaining

Don’t agree with everything. But is a good accompaniment. Good stories. Interesting opinions. Easy listening

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  • GB
  • 09-20-19

Not up to the standard of his previous books

I've struggled to get to the end of this one, there doesn't really seem to be a conclusion or any real insights, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief during his chapter on David Beckham including some random rant as to why he thought Tony Blair should have made sure he got a knighthood. No.. really, that's in there.

It probably says more about me that I found the rather posh narration a bit irritating but like everybody else I found the fake accents when quoting other people just plain stupid.

Overall, as I'm sure you gathered, I'm very disappointed by this. It comes across like the third book of a three book deal, stuffed lazily full of stuff lying around rather than going to the trouble of creating a real work on the subject.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-08-19

Not what I was hoping for

I'm a big fan of Matthews books. Black Box Thinking and Bounce are high on my recommended reading list for any new team members. unfortunately this is just a stitched together collection of tales, most of which had been previously published.

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  • Blessing
  • 10-19-18

great book

very good story telling. covers the greatest sports personalities of our time with impressive detail.

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  • Kurt
  • 11-28-17

Very Enjoyable

Overall a very enjoyable book. I would recommend to any sports enthusiasts. A great look at sporting triumphs, the characters of those heros and political impacts of sport.

The narrator was good, the accents however were not, sort of distracted from the point of what these figures were saying.