The World Cup Reading list
Now that the domestic season is all but over, it’s time to focus our book attention on a certain international tournament that’s coming up. These 6 books have got all the bases covered.
The Host Nation
It’s always good to do your homework on the team with the home advantage – the players, the venues, the culture at large. Here it’s a toss-up between the new and the old – David Goldblatt’s Futebol Nation or Alex Bellos’ Futebol(Bloomsbury). I’d favour the old here, especially as it’s been given a timely update.
The Host Continent
Brazil are far from the only side accustomed to a sub-continental summer. İGolazo! by Andreas Campomar (Quercus) gives you the lowdown on all of Latin America’s finest: the hosts but also Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and even Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras.
Phil Scolari’s side may be round about 3-1 with most bookies, but this is hardly Brazil’s finest crop. Plus, there’s a history of failure interspersed with all that success. For a reminder, check out Shocking Brazil by Fernando Duarte (Birlinn).
For the full facts, you can’t beat Brian Glanville’s Story of the World Cup but for something a little more fun I’d suggest Paul Hansford’s The World Cup (Hardie Grant). ‘Heroes, Hoodlums, High-kicks and Headbutts’ – the subtitle certainly has a lot to live up to.
The Personal Angle
On the subject of previous World Cups, I’d recommend From Bobby Moore to Thierry Henry by Liz Heade as a nice slice of familial nostalgia. But for 2014, it’s got to be The Boy in Brazil by Seth Burkett (Floodlit Dreams). At just 18, Burkett became the only English professional footballer in Brazilian football – this is his fascinating story.
And finally…The Expectation Suppressor
A month ago no-one gave England a chance in hell; but now that the squad has been announced, suddenly there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Lest we forget our history of disappointment, read Pete Davies’ classic One Night in Turin. It may be nearly a quarter of a century since Italia 90, but it’s amazing how little has changed for our national team. For more, read my review here.