At BC Soccer Web, we love great writing on the beautiful game. Every day, we do our best to make it easy for you to connect with the soccer news that matters, so you can get the most enjoyment and understanding from the game.
Today, we go a step further. Over the years, there have been many books on soccer and sport that have given us joy, laughter, as well as much to think about. We’re happy to share these with you. We’ll be updating this list as new titles become available, so keep checking.
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BC Soccer Web’s 2017 List of Soccer & Sports Book Recommendations:
My Turn: A Life of Total Football – by Johan Cruyff
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 most changed the nature of the game.
The Lane: The Official History of the World Famous Home of the Spurs – by Martin Cloake & Adam Powley
The Lane is a unique portrait of one of one of football’s great cathedrals, and the most comprehensive study of the ground ever published. Packed with exhaustive detail and insight, and drawing on a treasure trove of classic photographs and illustrations, this lavish coffee table book tells the full history of the stadium, its iconic features, the greatest games it has hosted, and includes exclusive interviews with Spurs legends who have played on the famous turf.
Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics – by Jonathan Wilson
Inverting the Pyramid is a pioneering soccer book that chronicles the evolution of soccer tactics and the lives of the itinerant coaching geniuses who have spread their distinctive styles across the globe. Through Jonathan Wilson’s brilliant historical detective work we learn how the South Americans shrugged off the British colonial order to add their own finesse to the game; how the Europeans harnessed individual technique and built it into a team structure; how the game once featured five forwards up front, while now a lone striker is not uncommon.
Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game – by Karl Ove Knausgaard Fredrik Ekelund
Karl Ove is sitting at home in Sweden watching the World Cup on TV (and falling asleep), with his wife, four small children and the dog; his good pal Fredrik is away in Brazil, playing beautiful football on the beach and watching the match. In this lively, argumentative, unique long-form email correspondence between them, written back and forth across the world, what begins as musings on the famous 2014 World Cup becomes (naturally) an exploration of the essential questions of life, with soccer as the catalyst for an inspiringly entertaining exchange of thoughts and ideas encompassing everything from the elusive nature of personal happiness, competitiveness, politics, insider knowledge about international football, art and literature, all rivetingly dissected with brilliance, verve and humour.
The Fall of the House of Fifa – by David Conn
This is a story of globalisation, of the changing geography of wealth and power, of how a most beloved of sports could be so rotten at the top. David Conn is writing the definitive account of Fifa’s rise and fall, the key, larger-than-life personalities and power-brokers responsible for it, told with a love of football’s history and the context to make sense of it all. Covering the events of the next eighteen months – including the FBI’s investigation, the consequences for Blatter, enquiries into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup, who takes over the presidency and their agenda – it promises to be a fascinating account.
Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United – by Sir Alex Ferguson
After an astonishing career-first in Scotland, and then over 27 years with Manchester United Football Club- Sir Alex Ferguson delivers Leading, in which the greatest soccer coach of all time will analyze the pivotal leadership decisions of his 38 years as a manager and, with his friend and collaborator Sir Michael Moritz, draw out lessons anyone can use in business and life to generate long-term transformational success.
Bob Lenarduzzi: A Canadian Soccer Story – by Bob Lenarduzzi & Jim Taylor
It’s been a fascinating, moving, often hilarious journey, laced with characters like Willie Johnston, who once paused while taking a corner kick to accept a beer from a fan; Alan Hinton, who was less than fit but took free kicks so accurately that the Province reported “When Alan Hinton put a corner kick on your head, he’d give you your choice of eyebrows” and Brian Budd, who won the Superstars series competition so often they changed the rules to keep him out. They all come alive in Bob Lenarduzzi, along with coaches, owners and the madcap adventures, triumphs and failures as Lenarduzzi and Jim Taylor weave the tale of the side, to quote a US TV commentator, “from the village of Vancouver.”
Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Alfredo Di Stéfano: in every generation Argentina has uncovered a uniquely brilliant soccer talent. Perhaps it’s because the country lives and breathes the game, its theories, and its myths. Argentina’s rich, volatile history—by turns sublime and ruthlessly pragmatic—is mirrored in the style and swagger of its national and club sides. In Angels with Dirty Faces, Jonathan Wilson chronicles the operatic drama of Argentinian soccer: the appropriation of the British game, the golden age of la nuestra, the exuberant style of playing that developed as Juan Perón led the country, a hardening into the brutal methods of anti-fútbol, the fusion of beauty and efficacy under César Luis Menotti, and the emergence of all-time greats.
I Think Therefore I Play – by Andrea Pirlo & Alessandro Alciato
Pirlo’s profile could not be much higher, having competed in the Champions League final in May 2015 and then embarking on a new career signing with MLS side New York City FC in July 2015. The vibrancy, humor and vivid insight that carry Pirlo’s autobiography along confounds his image as a dead-eyed assassin on the field of play. All the big names are in there: Lippi, Ancelotti, Conte, Maldini, Shevchenko, Seedorf, Buffon, Kaka, Nesta, Costacurta, Gattuso, Berlusconi and Ronaldo (“the real one”). But they’re not always in their work clothes. We hear Berlusconi playing the piano and telling “various types” of joke at Milan’s training ground. We see Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi drawing Nesta’s ire as they take him on a mystery tour of the German countryside in a hire car days before a World Cup semi-final. And we smell the aftermath of Filippo Inzaghi’s graphically described pre-match routine.
Das Reboot: How German Soccer Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World – by Raphael Honigstein
In Das Reboot, Raphael Honigstein charts the return of German soccer from the dreary functionality of the late 1990s to Götze’s moment of sublime, balletic genius and asks: How did this come about? The answer takes him from California to Stuttgart, from Munich to the Maracanã, via Dortmund and Amsterdam. Packed with exclusive interviews with key figures, including Jürgen Klinsmann, Thomas Müller, Oliver Bierhoff, and many more, Honigstein’s book reveals the secrets of German soccer’s success.
Pep Confidential: The Inside Story of Pep Guardiola’s First Season at Bayern Munich – by Martí Perarnau
Martí Perarnau was given total access to Bayern Munich during season 2013–14, and this book represents the first time in the modern era that a writer has got this close to one of the elite teams of world football. At the invitation of Pep Guardiola, he shadowed the Catalan, his staff, and his superstar players during training and on match days. Bayern smashed domestic records on their way to the double, but were humiliated by Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinal. Martí was with them every step of the way. Perarnau is with Guardiola as he is courted by the world’s greatest clubs during his sabbatical in New York. We hear Guardiola explain in detail the radical tactical moves which transform Bayern’s season and reprogram the players who will win the World Cup with Germany. Perarnau talks exclusively and in fascinating detail with an array of players, including Arjen Robben, Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Thiago Alcântara, and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Pep Confidential is much more than the story of a season—it is also a lasting portrait of one of the greatest coaches in sport.
I Am the Secret Footballer – by The Guardian
This updated edition of the bestselling and wildly popular I Am the Secret Footballer features a new introduction and an additional chapter. The anonymous writer of the Guardian’s ‘Secret Footballer’ column gives Premier League fans an insider’s look into the unseen world of professional football. ‘It is often said that 95% of what happens in football takes place behind closed doors. Many of these stories I shouldn’t be telling you. But I will.’
Manchester United: The Biography – by Jim White
Manchester United:The Biography will do for the football team what Peter Ackroyd did for London in his huge biog of the same name. The book follows the club’s extraordinary journey from its birth in the railway works of Newton Heath to its current status as Premier League and European champions. The key stages in United’s history will, of course, be covered: the Munich Air Crash of 1958, which saw the best part of an entire team (the Busby Babes) being killed; becoming the first English team to win the European Cup in 1968 (with Bobby Charlton and George Best); the dominance of the club in the Premiership; the controversial sale to American tycoon Malcolm Glazer, right up to Moscow 2008. But by drawing on the recollections of everyone from players and managers to fans and backroom staff, Jim has unearthed enough new material to interest die-hard fans and casual supporters alike. A fascinating history of a remarkable football club, by one of Britain’s best-known and most popular sports writers.
The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime – by Declan Hill
The Fix is the most explosive story of sports corruption in a generation. Intriguing, riveting, and compelling, it tells the story of an investigative journalist who sets out to examine the world of match-fixing in professional soccer.
Pele: The Autobiography – by Pelé
From the poverty-stricken streets of Sao Paulo to an international icon and one of the most celebrated footballers of all time, Pele’s life story is as extraordinary as it is enrapturing. With his trademark wit and deference, the legend draws us into a wonderful story lit by insight and humour and encompassing everything you ever wanted to know about the great man himself.
Fever Pitch – by Nick Hornby
The Twentieth Anniversary Edition As a young boy, growing up in the Home Counties and watching his parents’ marriage fall apart, Nick Hornby had little sense of home. Then his dad took him to Highbury. Arsenal’s football ground would become the source of many of the strongest feelings he’d ever have: joy, humiliation, heartbreak, frustration and hope. In this now-classic book, he vividly depicts his troubled relationship with his father,, his time as a teacher, and his first loves (after football), all through the prism of the game, as he insightfully and brilliantly explores obsession, and the way it can shape a life.
The 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Vancouver changed both the city and world sport forever. The Games will always be remembered for the Miracle Mile,” the much-anticipated showdown between the first two men to break the four-minute barrier, England’s Roger Bannister and Australia’s John Landy. But as the press focused the world’s attention on Vancouver, and Bannister outpaced Landy in the stretch, fate found an even more dramatic story that seared itself into the memories of all who saw it. England’s Jim Peters, the world-record holder in the marathon, entered Empire Stadium at the end of a brutal twenty-six-mile run, collapsing repeatedly before a medic stopped him two hundred yards from the finish line. Every single day offered up unbelievable tales of glory and grief. As one 1954 billboard boldly proclaimed, the Games were “a week you’ll remember a lifetime!””
Master storyteller Joe McGinniss travels to Italy to cover the unlikely success of a ragtag minor league soccer team–and delivers a brilliant and utterly unforgettable story of life in an off-the-beaten-track Italian village.