If you are prepared to trawl through the internet there are some great football books out there.. it’s not all ghostwritten autobiographies..

The Ball is Round by David Goldblatt

This is the absolute bible when it comes to a social, cultural and exhaustive history of the world game. It is a huge book but is very easy to dip in and out of – chronological and split by regions – and is a must have for anyone with a keen interest in the game.




Inverting The Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson

This is the equivalent to Goldblatt’s book when it comes to events on the field – a tactical bible – as the excellent Wilson investigates the changes in formation through the decades with teams coming up with solutions to the new problems faced. Just a fascinating book, very readable with helpful diagrams throughout. Superb.




Behind the Curtain by Jonathan Wilson

Wilson’s earlier work details his travels in Eastern Europe and acts as part travel writing, part history of Eastern European football. It is very easy to read and quite a short book – maybe 15 to 20 pages on each country – so never drags. The go-to book for anyone who fell in love with the Hagis, Stoichkovs and Stojkovics of this world.


Calcio by John Foot

A history of Italian football, Foot investigates the often murky world of Italian football, politics and organised crime. It is a huge book but this reflects the enormity of the subject matter – if you love Italian football this is probably the final word on the matter.




Brilliant Orange by David Winner

A study of the neurotic genius of Dutch football…… but so much more. Winner manages to place their football in a social context and draw parallels with all kinds of aspects of the Dutch character. In doing so, he manages to explain the genius behind Total Football in a way you could never have expected.



On The Road: A Journey Through A Season by Daniel Harris

This is the best club focused book I’ve ever read – and it’s not even my club. Daniel Harris takes you through a fascinating season (2009-10) with Manchester United. One where events off the field could be just as baffling, exciting and inspiring as those on it.

Sport Italia by Simon Martin

Narrating the history of modern Italy through its national passion for sport, Sport Italia provides a completely new portrayal of one of Europe’s most alluring, yet contradictory countries, tracing the highs and lows of Italy’s sporting history from its Liberal pioneers through Mussolini, the 1960 Rome Olympics to the Berlusconi era.





Vertigo by John Crace

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . . then you’re probably not a football fan. Years of underachievement. An heroic sense of injustice. A seemingly infinite capacity for self-destruction. John Crace and Spurs were made for each other. But then the team started to play like possible champions. For most fans, these are the glory moments they dream about. For Crace they just opened a new dimension of anxiety: the fear of success. Crace has supported Spurs for 40 years. His wife thinks he suffers from a psychiatric disorder, but fandom is not only one of the ways he negotiates his relationships, it also helps him make some sense of his life. Vertigo is the story of why fandom that starts out in boyish hope always ends in dark comedy.


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