Here are 4 football books as Fifa World Cup 2018 comes to an end
We love books. But no matter how much we read, there are always dusty shelves and stories — real or fictional — that we still haven’t opened our eyes to.
So every month, we’ll write about a topic, an author or a series that catches our attention. Whether it is James Bond or Scandinavian noir, the idea is to celebrate bestsellers across the world and discover more about the unknown faces behind forgotten books.
Bookworm or not, we promise there’ll be a little bit for everyone, because after all, books are forever.
Watching football might not be a life-changing event, except when it becomes a hobby. One day, you stumble on it and it inadvertently turns into a way of life.
It seems the purpose of this beautiful game is to deceive its fans. In a good way. In England, it gave the working class something to cheer for at the end of gruelling weeks. For some regions, such as the erstwhile USSR, some of the teams were stand-in agents for politicians. But a lot of the other times, football is pure love evoked by Ronaldinho’s dribbling or Lionel Messi’s ease or Cristiano Ronaldo’s sheer power, or simply, it’s the comfort of watching Sir Alex Ferguson chew his gum in every Manchester United game he has ever managed.
The Fifa World Cup 2018 has been a spectacle, here are four books to read on football:
Football Against the Enemy, by Simon Kuper
Football Against the Enemy is a must-read for every fan, whether you’ve been born into a football-legacy family or you’ve adopted it as the sport of your choice. The British author travels to 22 countries to tell the story of how football figures in politics, how it becomes an expression of rebellion, and even freedom. Think of it this way, all the India vs Pakistan cricket matches have a lot on stake, not just because the two teams are renowned, but because of the shared histories of the two nations. Kuper looks for exactly these connections in football. He gauges the impact of race, the colour of skin and the regional conflicts that sometimes define the world’s most popular sport.
The Secret Footballer’s Guide to the Modern Game
Truth is easier to tell under the mask of anonymity, and so The Secret Footballer’s book makes it to our list. The Premier League player-turned-author deftly covers evolution of modern football into a game where diets are strictly controlled and marketing earns big monies for large teams. If you’re the kind of fan who is nostalgic about the Arsene Wenger era and is a stickler for loyalty (think Ryan Giggs, Andres Iniesta, Gianluigi Buffon), this is the book to understand what makes football tick even today. Luckily, there’s not a single line that’s not riveting, even when you’re reading about footballers’ popping supplements.
My turn, by Johan Cruyff
It seems almost natural to pick an autobiography by the iconic Dutch footballer and manager. Cruyff is the legend that shook the game to its core as Ajax and Barcelona evolved into one of the best teams of the world. His achievements and vision defined Total Football, which arguably dismantled the comfortable hierarchies that existed before.
Most of Cruyff’s autobiography focuses on his game tactics but his tone gives away the person that he was. Stubborn and confident in a way that made him an over-achiever wherever he played or managed, his is a voice that demands respect. If this isn’t enough to satiate you, there’s also Cruyff’s side of the story on his falling out with club board members, his near-bankruptcy and the time he was nearly kidnapped.
Barefoot to Boots, The Many Lives of Indian Football, by Novy Kapadia
This may be one of the most comprehensive books about the history and the current state of Indian football, although it often runs into a dictionary-like narrative. Kapadia’s book is exhaustive in descriptions of the major tournaments and their inception during the British rule. But the book’s best parts are about the club rivalries, and the football-crazy pockets of India and how they were born.
Indians are sufficiently hooked onto the Premier League or the La Liga, but if Sunil Chhetri’s appeal to fans is any indication, there’s a lot left to learn. The country is still realizing there are sports beyond cricket.