Football

SHORTLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017

The full story of the man who brought unprecedented – and since unmatched – success to Liverpool FC

Bob Paisley was the quiet man in the flat cap who swept all domestic and European opposition aside and produced arguably the greatest club team that Britain has ever known. The man whose Liverpool team won trophies at a rate-per-season that dwarfs Sir Alex Ferguson's achievements at Manchester United and who remains the only Briton to lead a team to three European Cups.

From Wembley to Rome, Manchester to Madrid, Paisley's team was the one no one could touch. Working in a city which was on its knees, in deep post-industrial decline, still tainted by the 1981 Toxteth riots and in a state of open warfare with Margaret Thatcher, he delivered a golden era – never re-attained since – which made the city of Liverpool synonymous with success and won them supporters the world over. Yet, thirty years since Paisley died, the life and times of this shrewd, intelligent, visionary, modest football man have still never been fully explored and explained.

Based on in-depth interviews with Paisley's family and many of the players whom he led to an extraordinary haul of honours between 1974 and 1983, Quiet Genius is the first biography to examine in depth the secrets of Paisley's success. It inspects his man-management strategies, his extraordinary eye for a good player, his uncanny ability to diagnose injuries in his own players and the opposition, and the wicked sense of humour which endeared him to so many. It explores the North-East mining community roots which he cherished, and considers his visionary outlook on the way the game would develop.

Quiet Genius is the story of how one modest man accomplished more than any other football manager, found his attributes largely unrecorded and undervalued and, in keeping with the gentler ways of his generation, did not seem to mind. It reveals an individual who seemed out of keeping with the brash, celebrity sport football was becoming, and who succeeded on his own terms. Three decades on from his death, it is a football story that demands to be told.
In Masters of Modern Soccer, Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl asks: How do some of the game's smartest figures master the craft of soccer? By profiling players in every key position (American phenomenon Christian Pulisic, Mexican superstar Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, Belgium's Vincent Kompany, Spain's Xabi Alonso, Germany's Manuel Neuer) and management (Belgium coach Roberto Martínez and Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc), Wahl reveals how elite players and coaches strategize on and off the field and execute in high pressure game situations.

Masters of Modern Soccer is the definitive thinking fan's guide to modern soccer. For a supporter of any team, from the U.S. national teams to Manchester United, or any competition, from Mexico's Liga MX to the World Cup, this book reveals what players and managers are thinking before, during, and after games and delivers a true behind-the-scenes perspective on the inner workings of the sport's brightest minds. 

America's premier soccer journalist, Grant Wahl, follows world-class players from across the globe examining how they do their jobs. This access imbues Masters of Modern Soccer with deep insight from the players on how goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, and forwards function individually and as a unit to excel and win. Wahl also shadows a manager and director of soccer as they juggle the challenges of coaching, preparation, and the short- and long-term strategies of how to identify and acquire talent and deploy it on the field. 

A book that will stand the test of time, Masters of Modern Soccer is the most in-depth analysis of the craft of soccer ever written for the American fan. For any fan, player, coach, or sideline enthusiast, this book will change the way they watch the game.
A Home on the Field is about faith, loyalty, and trust. It is a parable in the tradition of Stand and Deliver and Hoosiers—a story of one team and their accidental coach who became certain heroes to the whole community.

For the past ten years, Siler City, North Carolina, has been at the front lines of immigration in the interior portion of the United States. Like a number of small Southern towns, workers come from traditional Latino enclaves across the United States, as well as from Latin American countries, to work in what is considered the home of industrial-scale poultry processing. At enormous risk, these people have come with the hope of a better life and a chance to realize their portion of the American Dream.

But it isn't always easy. Assimilation into the South is fraught with struggles, and in no place is this more poignant than in the schools. When Paul Cuadros packed his bags and moved south to study the impact of the burgeoning Latino community, he encountered a culture clash between the long-time residents and the newcomers that eventually boiled over into an anti-immigrant rally featuring former Klansman David Duke.

It became Paul's goal to show the growing numbers of Latino youth that their lives could be more than the cutting line at the poultry plants, that finishing high school and heading to college could be a reality. He needed to find something that the boys could commit to passionately, knowing that devotion to something bigger than them would be the key to helping the boys find where they fit in the world. The answer was soccer.

But Siler City, like so many other small rural communities, was a football town, and long-time residents saw soccer as a foreign sport and yet another accommodation to the newcomers. After an uphill battle, the Jets soccer team at Jordan-Matthews High School was born. Suffering setbacks and heartbreak, the majority Latino team, in only three seasons and against all odds, emerged poised to win the state championship.

The Denmark side of the 1980s was one of the last truly iconic international football teams. Although they did not win a trophy, they claimed something much more important and enduring: glory, and in industrial quantities. They were a bewitching fusion of futuristic attacking football, effortless Scandinavian cool and laid-back living. They played like angels and lived like you and I, and they were everyone's second team in the mid-1980s. The story of Danish Dynamite, as the team became known, is the story of a team of rock stars in a polyester Hummel kit.

Heralding from a country with no real football history to speak of and a population of five million, this humble and likeable team was unique. Everymen off the field and superheroes on it, they were totally of their time, and their approach to the game was in complete contrast to the gaudy excess and charmless arrogance of today's football stars. That they ultimately imploded in spectacular style, with a shocking 5-1 defeat to Spain in the 1986 World Cup in a game that almost everyone expected them to win, only adds to their legend.

For the first time in Emglish, Danish Dynamite tells the story of perhaps the coolest team in football history, a team that had it all and blew it in spectacular style after a live-fast-die-young World Cup campaign. Featuring interviews with the players themselves, including Michael Laudrup, Preben Elkjær and Jesper Olsen, as well as with those who played or managed against them, this is a joyous celebration of one of the most life-affirming teams the world has ever seen.
One of Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 Sports Books of All Time—a history of soccer that “stands out like Pelé on a field of second-stringers” (The New Yorker).

The beautiful game deserves a beautiful book, and Eduardo Galeano—one of Latin America’s most acclaimed authors—has written it. From Aztec champions sacrificed to appease the gods, to the goals that were literally scored into wooden posts in Victorian England, to Spain’s victory in the 2010 World Cup, Soccer in Sun and Shadow is a history of the sport unlike any other.

Galeano portrays the irruption of South American soccer that made the game sublime: the elegant, mischievous, joyful style based on deft dribbling, close passes, and quick changes in rhythm, perfected by poor black children who had no toy but a rag ball. He describes the superstitions that vex players, the martyrdom of referees, the exquisite misery of fans, the sad denouement of stars past their prime.

Striding across the pages are players born with the ball—and entire nations—at their feet: Arthur Friedenreich, the son of a German immigrant and a black washerwoman, who first brought Brazilian style from the slums into the stadiums; Brazil’s Garrincha, whose body, warped by polio, could make the ball dance; and the Dutch great Ruud Gullit, who campaigned against apartheid on and off the pitch. And, of course, Beckenbauer, Pelé, Cruyff, and Maradona, a man blessed with “the hand of God” and a left foot equally as divine.

Soccer in Sun and Shadow traces the rise of the soccer industry and the concurrent voyage “from beauty to duty”: attempts to impose a soccer of lightning speed and brute force, one that disdains fantasy and forfeits play for results. Eduardo Galeano, who describes himself as “a beggar for good soccer,” gives the world’s most popular sport all the poetry, passion, and politics it deserves.
In a tiny, decaying aluminium smelting town in southern Tajikistan, a short drive from a raging war zone, Afghanistan take on Palestine in the first Asian qualifier for 2014's World Cup in Brazil. Every player on both teams is risking something by playing: their careers, their families, even their lives. Yet, along with thousands of other footballers backed by millions of supporters, they all dream of snatching one of the precious 32 places at the finals; and so begins a three-year epic struggle – long before the usual suspects start their higher-profile qualifying campaigns under the spotlight.

Named after the greatest victory (and defeat) that the World Cup qualifiers have ever seen (Australia's 31-0 victory over American Samoa), Thirty-One Nil is the story of how footballers from all corners of the globe begin their journey chasing a place at the World Cup Finals. It celebrates the part-time priests, princes and hopeless chancers who dream of making it to Brazil, in defiance of the staggering odds stacked against them. It tells the story of teams who have struggled for their very existence through political and social turmoil, from which they will very occasionally emerge into international stardom.

From the endlessly humiliated San Marino to lowly Haiti; from war-torn Lebanon to the oppressed and fleet-footed players of Eritrea, in Thirty-One Nil James Montague gets intimately and often dangerously close to some of the world's most extraordinary teams, and tells their exceptional stories.
In 2007, David Beckham, the golden boy of soccer, shocked the international sports world when he signed a five-year contract with an American team, the Los Angeles Galaxy. Under the direction of his manager, Simon Fuller, the mastermind behind American Idol and the Spice Girls, Beckham was ready for a monumental challenge and a risky adventure–ready, as Fuller put it, to earn his stripes Stateside. Could he pull off what no player had ever accomplished (including Pelé in the 1970s) and transform soccer into one of the most popular spectator sports in America? It was a bold experiment: failure meant a team, a league, a sport, and Beckham himself might miss their chance to hit primetime in the U.S.

With unprecedented access to the Galaxy and one-on-one interviews with Beckham, veteran Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl focuses on the inner circle of the experiment: Beckham, Galaxy leading scorer Landon Donovan, Simon Fuller, controversial former coach Ruud Gullit, outspoken former Galaxy president Alexi Lalas, and Mrs. Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham. Wahl takes readers behind the scenes, on the road with the team and inside the locker room, to reveal just what happened on and off the field when the most renowned player in the world left the glamour of European soccer to play in a country that has yet to fully embrace the sport. We find out what his teammates really think of their superstar captain, who was calling the shots behind the scenes, how Beckham’s management conducted a shadow takeover of the Galaxy organization, and if the team plans to embrace him–or not–when he returns from AC Milan for the 2009 season.

The Beckham Experiment is a no-holds-barred account of ego clashes and epic winless streaks, rivalries and resentments, big gambles and great expectations, cultural and class collisions, and ultimately the volatile mix of celebrity and professional sports. As Beckham embarks on his third season with the Galaxy, the question remains: even for a player the caliber of David Beckham, are some goals out of reach?
The autobiography of Dutch soccer legend Johan Cruyff, whose remarkable life and impeccable style have influenced star players and clubs for decades
Johan Cruyff embodied a footballing philosophy that now dominates coaching and playing styles in all the leading club sides around the world. You can dispute whether Cruyff was the greatest player ever--he was certainly one of the top three--but he is undoubtedly the player who single-handedly changed the nature of the game.

My Turn tells the story of Cruyff's remarkable career, built on the techniques he learned playing in the streets of postwar Amsterdam while hoping to be noticed by the city's famous club, Ajax. He would eventually inspire that team to eight league championships and three European cups. He won his first of three Ballons d'Or at twenty-four in 1971. In 1973, Cruyff was sold to Barcelona for a world-record transfer fee. He led the Catalans to victory in La Liga for the first time since 1960, and went on to leave a lasting mark on Spanish soccer. In the 1974 World Cup, Cruyff propelled the Dutch team to the final for the first time.

Cruyff's lasting influence, however, is not in the medals he won, but in the style of play he epitomized and then applied to the Barcelona and Ajax teams he coached. His vision of "Total Football" transformed the way soccer was played, and its dazzling fluidity became the basis of the most admired sides around the world. He was the sport's uncompromising genius on and off the field of play.
When most people think about the Netherlands, images of tulips and peaceful pot smoking residents spring to mind. Bring up soccer, and most will think of Johan Cruyuff, the Dutch player thought to rival Pele in preternatural skill, and Ajax, one of the most influential soccer clubs in the world whose academy system for young athletes has been replicated around the globe (and most notably by Barcelona and the 2010 world champions, Spain).

But as international bestselling author Simon Kuper writes in Ajax, The Dutch, The War: Soccer in Europe During the Second World War, the story of soccer in Holland cannot be understood without investigating what really occurred in this country during WWII. For decades, the Dutch have enjoyed the reputation of having a “good war.” The myth is even resonant in Israel where Ajax is celebrated. The fact is, the Jews suffered shocking persecution at the hands of Dutch collaborators. Holland had the second largest Nazi movement in Europe outside Germany, and in no other country except Poland was so high a percentage of Jews deported.

Kuper challenges Holland's historical amnesia and uses soccer—particularly the experience of Ajax, a club long supported by Amsterdam's Jews—as a window on wartime Holland and Europe. Through interviews with Resistance fighters, survivors, wartime soccer players and more, Kuper uncovers this history that has been ignored, and also finds out why the Holocaust had a profound effect on soccer in the country.

Ajax produced Cruyuff but was also built by members of the Dutch resistance and Holocaust survivors. It became a surrogate family for many who survived the war and its method for producing unparalleled talent became the envy of clubs around the world. In this passionate, haunting and moving work of forensic reporting, Kuper tells the breathtaking story of how Dutch Jews survived the unspeakable and came to play a strong role in the rise of the most exciting and revolutionary style of soccer — “Total Football” — the world had ever seen.
An opinionated masterclass in the art and science of “reading” a match from one of professional soccer’s most respected and beloved international figures.

"For Americans new to European soccer, terms like 'false striker,' 'double accordion' or 'moving trios' need Mr. Gullit’s expert explications." —Wall Street Journal
 
Ruud Gullit knows better than anyone else that to understand soccer you have to understand strategy. When he started playing soccer, his only “strategy” was to get the ball, outrun everyone else to the other end of the field, and score. At first it served him well, but as he advanced through the sport, he learned that it takes much more than one player's speed to make a winning team. Over the course of his career, he worked his way from the Dutch junior leagues all the way to the legendary AC Milan, eventually retiring from the field to be a trainer, then a manager, and finally a commentator. Each step came with its own lessons, and its own unique perspective on the game. Now, having looked at soccer through every lens possible, Gullit shares his own perspective.
 
Most spectators simply watch the ball, but in How to Watch Soccer, Gullit explains how to watch the whole game. He shows how every part of a match, from formations to corner kicks, all the way down to what the players do to influence the referees, is important. And he uses his own vast experience to illustrate each point, so his lessons are filled with anecdotes from his years on the field and insights from his observations as a manager and commentator. This exhaustive guide will change the way even the most die-hard fan watches the beautiful game.
'An artist, in my eyes, is someone who can lighten up a dark room. I have never and will never find difference between the pass from Pele to Carlos Alberto in the final of the World Cup in 1970, and the poetry of the young Rimbaud' - Eric Cantona

Football, and art. Eric Cantona – legend, maverick, troubled artist or just plain trouble – never saw a need to make a distinction between the two. For all the heat and noise surrounding his infamous Crystal Palace 'kung-fu kick', it is for the sheer exuberant beauty of his play that Eric Cantona is chiefly remembered by English football fans. At Leeds United he transformed the team into title contenders, but became a true talisman at Manchester United, where to this day fans sing of 'King Eric'. And yet the effortless style of Cantona's play could not hide a darker side to his temperament. In his own words, 'I play with passion and fire. I have to accept that sometimes, this fire does harm.'

In Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King leading French football journlist Philippe Auclair has interviewed over 200 key protagonists in Cantona's career, searching for the man behind the myth. Marrying a deep knowledge of Cantona's impact on the pitch with soulful, pin-sharp insight into the heart and inner thoughts of this most complex of characters, this is nothing less than the definitive biography of a one-time rebel of the French game, who rose to be the King of Old Trafford.

'I'd give all the champagne I've ever drunk to be playing alongside Cantona in a big European match at Old Trafford' - George Best

Daring, flashy, innovative, volatile—no matter what they call him, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of soccer’s brightest stars. A top-scoring striker and captain of the Swedish national team, he has dominated the world’s most storied teams, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain. But his life wasn’t always so charmed.
 
Born to Balkan immigrants who divorced when he was a toddler, Zlatan learned self-reliance from his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. While his father, a Bosnian Muslim, drank to forget the war back home, his mother’s household was engulfed in chaos. Soccer was Zlatan’s release. Mixing in street moves and trick plays, Zlatan was a wild talent who rode to practice on stolen bikes and relished showing up the rich kids—opponents and teammates alike. Goal by astonishing goal, the brash young outsider grew into an unlikely prodigy and, by his early twenties, an international phenomenon.
 
Told as only the man himself could tell it, featuring stories of friendships and feuds with the biggest names in the sport, I Am Zlatan is a wrenching, uproarious, and ultimately redemptive tale for underdogs everywhere.

Praise for I Am Zlatan

“Terrific . . . Far more insightful than your typical jock memoir, Ibra’s book tells his story of growing up as the son of immigrants in Sweden and pulls no punches when it comes to his opinions of some of the biggest names in the game.”—Sports Illustrated

“The most compelling autobiography ever to appear under a footballer’s name.”—The Guardian
 
“The story of Zlatan—from his days as an immigrant kid juggling a soccer ball so he won’t get bullied to his emergence as the genius player who scored the greatest goal ever—is as compelling and fancy-footed as his game.”—Aleksandar Hemon, National Book Award finalist and author of The Lazarus Project

“I love this book. I love it because it’s so much bigger than soccer. I Am Zlatan is a story of hope and grit and what an immigrant kid who comes from nothing can accomplish with hard work and belief in himself. It’s also a beautiful window into our new, more open, more diverse world.”—Marcus Samuelsson, bestselling author of Yes, Chef
 
“Probably the bestselling European immigrant’s tale since Zadie Smith’s White Teeth . . . Once you get past the obligatory snigger prompted by the phrase ‘footballer’s autobiography,’ you can see that Zlatan’s book strangely resembles an earlier immigrant’s tale: Portnoy’s Complaint.”—Financial Times

“He is skillful. He is outspoken. He is Zlatan.”—The New York Times
 
“The best sports autobiography in years.”—PolicyMic
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