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The Best Football Books

The Best Football Books

Having read a number of football-related books over the last year I thought it would be best to share some of those to you. I have read most of the books on the list and cannot recommend them enough, and some others on the list are books that people have recommended to me and I have heard great things about.

Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics

If you’re interested in improving your knowledge of tactics (and maybe even applying this to Football Manager) then pick this up for a fiver at Amazon, you won’t regret it!. Here Jonathan Wilson pulls apart the modern game, traces the world history of tactics from modern pioneers right back to beginning where chaos reigned. Along the way he looks at the lives of great players and thinkers who shaped the game, and probes why the English, in particular, have ‘proved themselves unwilling to grapple with the abstract’.



Football Manager Stole My Life

A book we can all relate to, right? Football Manager Stole My Life lifts the lid on the cult of Football Manager (FM). It is an easy-to-read, highly illustrated, light-hearted guide to the game s lasting impact on popular culture. We hear from the gamers whose lives have been taken over by FM, a game cited in 35 divorce cases in the UK. There are interviews with the players who become world beaters in the game, but in real life never make the big leagues. The incredible scouting network of Sports Interactive is revealed.



Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World

This is the untold inside story of how the best and most loved football team in the world came to redefine how the game is played. We start with the 2011 Champions League final at Wembley, the game that ended the debate about whether Barcelona were the greatest team in the world and began a new one: are they the best ever? We are inside the winning dressing room and inside the mind of the team s coach, Pep Guardiola. From there, the focus is on each of the iconic personalities of this team.




Soccernomics, written with an economist’s brain and a football writer’s skill offers some amazing explanations into the inner-workings of the game.  Soccernomics isn’t in the first place about money. It’s about looking at data in new ways. It’s about revealing counterintuitive truths about football. It explains all manner of things about the game which newspapers just can’t see. It all adds up to a new way of looking at football, beyond clichés about “The Magic of the FA Cup”, “England’s Shock Defeat” and “Newcastle’s New South American Star”.



Calcio: A History of Italian Football

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.



Tor! The Story of German Football

Similar to Calcio, Tor! is an in-depth look at one of the biggest footballing nations on the planet. Tor is one of my all-time favourite football books and I learnt a huge amount about German football, from how teams originated to their take on the England rivalry. As one of the reviews says, “This book proves that there is more to German football than Bayern Munich” which I think is a great line. With German football and the national team rapidly improving, this is a great insight to how it all started right up to this point in time.



There you have it, 6 of the best football books out there and if you want to improve your knowledge of the beautiful game, I couldn’t recommend them enough. If you’ve read any other books you feel are worthy of a mention, be sure to let me know in the comments below!

  • Adam

    Behind the curtain (also by J.Wilson) would be on my list. Terrific read.

    • agree!

      Among the best… also

  • Read four of them …. one briefly (Pyramids) and Tor!, Calcio and, of course, FMSML.

    Tor! – I think its amoung the best footballbooks I read. He really pick upp the the essence of german football and make you really wnt to know more.

    Calcio – Is almost good as Tor! is. Really recommend it also. Hard to say the differences in them than Calcio is a little bit more of everything and Tor! is more straight analysing.
    Funny! Read Calcio in italian! Italian is not my “homelanguage” so I guess it was great to have it translated from english and all the tricky words intern lines are not there.

    FMSML – What can you say, if you are an FM-freak, you can´t resist. Nothing for the guys outside the “FaMily”

    Will also recommend two other footballbooks …
    The Beautiful Game? – David Conn. For me the best footballbook ever written. Awsome in the language and very interesting in way of tellling thing, small as big.
    And then… The Beautiful Team – Garry Jenkin. He is going to Brazil and talk to the guys who won the WC 1970. Pelé, Tostao, Rivellino etc etc. He lett them tell their story and their moments during the tournament.
    This among many other great footballbooks I read.

    ps. sorry for the english and hope you got enything of it.

    • Dan

      Thanks for the comment mate, much appreciated. Agree with everything you have said about those books.

      I will also check out The Beautiful Game and The Beautiful Team, will buy them tomorrow and get reading!

  • squeakybumtime90

    I’d highly advise Alex Bellos’s Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life – a really good read about the history and development in a country which has become synonymous with the beautiful game.

  • martin mooney

    I’d recommend faithful through and through by Richard Purden. Worth a look for any football fan. Especially if you’re a Celtic fan.