Top 10 Footballs books
Now that the World Cup is underway in Brazil, here’s a look at ten of the best books written about the game. Fever Pitch (1992) by Nick Hornby: In this groundbreaking bittersweet memoir, Nick Hornby reflected on how his passion for Arsenal FC had shaped, or warped, his life. […]
Now that the World Cup is underway in Brazil, here’s a look at ten of the best books written about the game.
Fever Pitch (1992) by Nick Hornby
In this groundbreaking bittersweet memoir, Nick Hornby reflected on how his passion for Arsenal FC had shaped, or warped, his life. Jobs, relationships and personal development took second place to this obsession. Hornby’s book has been hugely influential, and helped popularise the game again after a decade of falling attendances and crowd violence.
Only a Game (1976) by Eamon Dunphy
Before this football diary was published, books on the game had concentrated on the great players and big matches. Dunphy showed the lack of glamour or riches at second division Millwall, the insecure life of a journeyman professional, and the ruthless nature of the game.
The Damned Utd (2006) by David Peace
In 1974 maverick boss Brian Clough became manager of Leeds United, a team he had been highly critical of for their negative tactics. He lasted forty-four days in the job. David Peace offers a vivid fictionalised recreation of this brief marriage made in hell.
Full Time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino (2005) by Paul Kimmage
Most football autobiographies have been bland and formulaic, often because the subject is still playing. Here the football confessional memoir is taken to new levels, revealing Cascarino’s problems on and off the pitch during a nomadic career. One noteworthy revelation is that Cascarino dyed his hair whenever a new contract was due.
The Outsider (2012) by Jonathan Wilson
The goalkeeper is in the loneliest, most isolated position on the pitch, more often scapegoat than saviour; in its early days the game didn’t even feature anyone between the sticks. So the position has attracted some eccentric, defiant figures. Wilson surveys some of them, travelling from Russia to Cameroon to Brazil, where the status of the goalkeeper has risen.
The Ball is Round by David Goldblatt (2006)
In 978 pages, Goldblatt offers an almost definitive encyclopaedic history of football around the world. He provides a social context for how what started out as an informal pastime has become a global industry.
The Italian Job (2006) by Gianluca Vialli and Gabriele Marcotti
This absorbing book contrasts British and Italian football, and how everything from tactics and cultural norms to the weather has made a difference. Some of the biggest managers in the game are interviewed for their thoughts (Ferguson, Mourinho, Wenger, Capello, Lippi).
Brilliant Orange (2000) by David Winner
In the early 1970 The Netherlands emerged from footballing obscurity to reach two World Cup finals with innovative tactics and brilliant players. Their individuality and flair has been offset by a self-destructive urge, and Winner profiles their best players, coaches and clubs, and looks at their near misses and their bitter rivalry with Germany.
How Soccer Explains the World (2005) by Franklin Foer
Foer explains in entertaining fashion how race, religion and politics are reflected in soccer and the effect globalisation has on society as a whole. He deals extensively with football tensions that are rooted in society, including the Old Firm rivalry in Glasgow.
Among the Thugs (1991) by Bill Buford
During the 1980s American expatriate journalist Buford infiltrated the world of football hooliganism in England, and his book recalls the extreme characters he encountered and the organised madness that was part of the football culture of the time. This dark side of the game has also been fictionalised, notably in John King’s The Football Factory.