Gift Ideas: 11 Books For Football FansBy: The Offside | November 15th, 2010
Occasionally, football fans read beyond the concise blogs, thousand word columns and, these days, hieroglyphics on Twitter. We’ve compiled a list of such items, once referred to as “books”, below, which make good gifts for a loved one, or good gifts for the inevitable favorite shoppee on your list – numero uno.
Some are popular, well-known, well-read and even classics; others may not be as prominent. All, however, are worth the read for a football fan.
11 Books For Football Fans
Fever Pitch – Nick Hornsby
The footy classic which spawned the unfortunate, if aptly named, American baseball remake.
In Britain he [Hornby] is revered for his status as a fanatical football writer (sorry, fanatical soccer writer), owing to Fever Pitch–which is both an autobiography and a footballing Bible rolled into one. Hornby pinpoints 1968 as his formative year–the year he turned 11, the year his parents separated, and the year his father first took him to watch Arsenal play. The author quickly moved “way beyond fandom” into an extreme obsession that has dominated his life, loves, and relationships.
Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics – Jonathan Wilson
A tactical study from this generation’s tactical guru.
Soccer fans love to argue about the tactics a manager puts into play, and this fascinating study traces the world history of tactics, from modern pioneers right back to the beginning, where chaos reigned. Along the way, author Jonathan Wilson, an erudite and detailed writer who never loses a sense of the grand narrative sweep, takes a look at the lives of the great players and thinkers who shaped the game, and discovers why the English in particular have proved themselves so “unwilling to grapple with the abstract.” This is a modern classic of soccer writing that followers of the game will dip into again and again.
Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football – Jonathan Wilson
Of course he’s also its foremost English-language expert on Eastern European football, and this book details the history of the sport in the region, which so often dances with the politics by which it was defined.
From the war-ravaged streets of Sarajevo, where turning up for training involved dodging snipers’ bullets, to the crumbling splendor of Budapest’s Bozsik Stadium, where the likes of Puskas and Kocsis masterminded the fall of England, the landscape of Eastern Europe has changed immeasurably since the fall of communism. Jonathan Wilson has traveled extensively behind the old Iron Curtain, viewing life beyond the fall of the Berlin Wall through the lens of soccer.
Englischer Fussball: A German View of Our Beautiful Game – Rafa Honigsteing
Anyone familiar with journalism in today’s game is familiar with Rafa, one of the funniest and most insightful in the business. He gives a rival’s perspective on England’s favorite game.
Starting with the origin of the modern game in the late nineteenth century, Honigstein traces the development of English football from its public-school origins to the glory years of Ramsey and beyond, exploring the culture and foundational myths of a peculiarly English invention. Is English football really about manliness, hard work, fair play, and a never-say-die attitude? Why is there so little room in our game for individual brilliance? And just why are we so hung up on beating the Germans?
Brilliant Orange The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer – David Winner
A look into the way Dutch culture cultivated arguably football’s greatest phenomenon of the last half-century.
The Dutch, who invented Total Football about three decades ago, are, according to Winner, a nation of special neurotics. Because space is always at a premium in their small country, they’ve learned to use it in wildly innovative ways. This is seen in their architecture, their art, their society–and their soccer.
Football Against the Enemy – Simon Kuper
As the world’s game, football carries a special significance far beyond the pitch, and Kuper’s book tells the stories of where. An industry standard.
Throughout the world football is a potent force in the lives of billions of people. Focusing on national, political and cultural identities, football is the medium through which the world’s hopes and fears, passions and hatreds are expressed. Simon Kuper travelled to 22 countries from South Africa to Italy, from Russia to the USA, to examine the way football has shaped these countries.
Soccer in Sun and Shadow, New Edition – Eduardo Galeano
Football and the world, from a different vantage point. (And no less highly thought of.)
Discussing everything from the leveling of the Twin Towers to the death of the sole survivor of that extraordinary match between British and German soldiers in 1915, one of South America’s greatest commentators issues forth on robotic soccer in Japan, the mass-production of the game as a sign of the decline of civilization, the amazing success of Senegal and Turkey, and how Nike beat Adidas.
If not for this book, one of the true miracles of a tiny village’s rise to Serie B – and the further miracle of staying there – might not have the wide grasp it has today.
When Joe McGinniss sets out for the remote Italian village of Castel di Sangro one summer, he merely intends to spend a season with the village’s soccer team, which only weeks before had, miraculously, reached the second-highest-ranking professional league in the land. But soon he finds himself embroiled with an absurd yet irresistible cast of characters, including the team’s owner, described by the New York Times as “straight out of a Mario Puzo novel,” and coach Osvaldo Jaconi, whose only English word is the one he uses to describe himself: “bulldozer.”
Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life – Alex Bellos
There is no sport quite like football when considered from all angles, and there is no place on earth which treats it quite like Brazil.
Alex Bellos’s study of football in Brazil, its history, its players, supporters and legends, works from the standpoint that Brazilian football is one the modern wonders of the world, “the beautiful game” being an art form in itself and a universally recognised trademark and brand.
Tor!: The Story of German Football – Uli Hesse
In order to run the well-oiled “machine” that is German football, there are a number of moving parts behind the scenes. This is the story of those moving parts.
As the author explains, his aim was to write an entertaining history of the German game. He has certainly achieved his goal, or “tor” as they would say in Germany. Hesse-Lichtenberger sets out to prove that football in Germany is not necessarily the efficient, predictable machine that those of us believing in the German stereotype might think.
Calcio: A History of Italian Football – John Foot
Oh, those crazy Italians…
In something which might read like fiction, it isn’t – just good old calcio.
The first history of Italian football to be written in English, ‘Calcio’ is a mix of serious analysis and comic storytelling, with vivid descriptions of games, goals, dives, missed penalties, riots and scandals in the richest and toughest league in the world. ‘Calcio’ tells the story of Italian football from its origins in the 1890’s to the present day. It takes us through a history of great players and teams, of style, passion and success, but also of violence, cynicism, catenaccio tactics and corruption.