It's extra-orrrdinary Brian! Everywhere you turn there's a new Spectrum soccer simulation (try saying that after a few Lucozades), aimed, no doubt, at the countless thousands who shelled out for Kevin Toms' golden oldie Football Manager.
And gameplay in Footballer Of The Year isn't a millon miles from that old chestnut. You still play for a team struggling to escape the lower divisions, only this time you deal in goal cards, which enable you to have a potshot or two at goal whenever you play them. You can also buy Incident Cards (just like Chance and Community cards in Monopoly). As you score more goals and rise up the divisions you find yourself gaining status points and being transferred, often against your will. But there's a definite way to play it to win!
This involves buying as many goal cards as you can, using them sparingly and spending the rest of your ackers on Incident Cards. From then on in, there are only seven or eight hours of hard play before you finally make Footballer Of The Year. The gameplay's not too bad if you like that sort of thing and the graphics really are excellent. Parts of the game, though, are a mite dodgy. Theres no consistency about league positions - if a team's won ten games and lost 24, you wouldn't really expect it to be sixth in the league. Not only that, there's no difference in cup games between 1st and 4th Division teams and when the Footballer Of The Year ceremony comes up someone is invariably nominated twice, and still doesn't win.
So does Footballer Of The Year hit the crossbar or is it a winner? Well, Brian, without wishing to put the boot in, let alone brandish the red card, I'm afraid it's not at the top of Division One. Still, it's a game of two halves, Brian, and you could do a hell of a lot worse in 90 minutes.