The football book market is flooded with some great – and not so great – books to read each year. This year is no different as major publishers and independent sports book companies are ready to release some exciting titles in 2021.
While there are some excellent books on tap for this year, there are some must-read football books that shouldn’t be missed.
These cult classics should be on the bookshelf of every football fan on the planet. So, what should you read in 2021? Have a look at this list of top football books to read and enjoy.
10. Wings of Change – Karan Tejwani
Champions League 2019-20 semifinalists RB Leipzig were only formed a decade ago, but their rise to the top of German football has been mercurial.
Now, with the Red Bull drinks company achieving more success from their football clubs, Karan Tejwani’s debut book, Wings of Change explains just how the club reached the top of the football world in such a short timeframe.
Published by the excellent indie sports company, Pitch Publishing in 2020, Wings of Change delves into the world of Red Bull football in a way never before seen.
9. The Damned United – David Peace
Published in 2006, The Damned United is a fantastic biographical novel that keeps readers engaged throughout. The book was later turned into a motion picture in 2009, but lost some of the power that the book contains.
The critically acclaimed The Damned United depicts former manager Brian Clough’s short, unsuccessful time in charge of Leeds United in 1974.
It interlaces flashbacks to Clough’s time at Derby County making for an incredibly gripping story.
8. Inverting the Pyramid – Jonathan Wilson
Jonathan Wilson’s books are well-researched affairs that can occasionally come off as dry, textbook-like, and long. Yet, for those who can stick with them, they uncover a wealth of information and history.
Although Wilson has written a number of good books over the years, Inverting the Pyramid made him a household name as an author of football books. The book traces the development of tactical formations with various tales of players, coaches, and clubs.
Most of the current crop of bloggers and journalists that focus on tactics and formations gained interest in the subject from reading Inverting the Pyramid.
7. Calcio – John Foot
Fans of Italian football consider Calcio the Bible of books on the Italian game. John Foot’s work is a brilliant source of information on the subject as it delves deep into the past of Italian football up to the modern-day game.
Calcio explains the great teams, players, coaches, and scandals of Italian football and delivers insight like few other English language books have before or since.
6. I am the Secret Footballer: Lifting the Lid on the Beautiful Game – The Secret Footballer
Published in 2012, I am the Secret Footballer pulls back the curtain on the life of a professional footballer like never before.
The Secret Footballer is unknown – though most fans believe it to be former Stoke City player Dave Kitson – giving him a shroud of confidentiality as he explains the highs, lows, and everything in between as a pro.
This is the first book in the Secret Footballer series and it makes a big splash with the often-hidden elements of the game that are revealed.
5. Invincible: Inside Arsenal’s Unbeaten 2003-2004 Season – Amy Lawrence
Published in 2014, 10 years after Arsenal’s Invincibles went the entire Premier League season without a loss, author Amy Lawrence revisits the greatest season in Gunners history.
Lawrence interviewed Arsenal’s top players from the 2003-04 season along with then-manager Arsene Wenger.
She was voted 2014 Football Supporters’ Federation Writer of the Year thanks in part to her work on Invincible.
4. Morbo – Phil Ball
Spanish football expert Phil Ball takes readers on a journey back in time on the Iberian Peninsula. Morbo examines the history of Spanish football and avoids focusing on Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The journey begins with Recreativo de Huelva, Spain’s oldest club, and travels around the country to its diverse regions to examine teams, rivalries, and history.
Morbo was published all the way back in 2001, but stands the test of time. Following publication, it was short-listed for the William Hill Award and won the GQ Sports Book of the Year.
3. A Life too Short – Ronald Reng
A Life too Short tells the sad story of former German national team goalkeeper Robert Enke, who took his own life in November 2009.
The book is a powerful reminder than footballers are human beings that suffer from the same mental health issues non-athletes do.
A Life too Short won the Dietrich Oppenberg Media Award in 2010, the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2011, and Sports Book of the Year 2015 in the Polish Sports Book Awards.
2. Soccernomics – Simon Kuper & Stefan Szymanski
Soccernomics changed the football world when it was released in October 2009. The book continues to be updated and re-printed as its popularity remains high amongst football fans.
Soccernomics’s writers Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski used economics, maths, and investigative tools to dissect the world of football and come up with concrete answers to some of the biggest questions, such as why does England lose?
When the book came out, it was the dawn of advanced scouting. Clubs had started to use numbers more readily in football. All this seems basic today, but it was Soccernomics that explained expected goals and other information far before it was widely written or spoken about.
1. The Miracle of Castel di Sangro – Joe McGinniss
Written by legendary American journalist and author Joe McGinniss, The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, tells the story of the writer’s experience living in the town of the same name, following the tiny Serie B team Castel di Sangro Calcio.
McGinniss spent nearly a year living in Castel di Sangro, getting to know the players, coaches, and owner. He wrote about his experience as the club played in their first-ever season of Serie B football.
McGinniss’s fly on the wall commentary pulled back the curtain on a tumultuous season for the club in which one player was arrested, two died in a car crash, and matches were claimed to have been fixed.
It is perhaps the greatest football book ever written and making it even more intriguing is that McGinniss was a novice football fan learning about the game as he watched events unfold.
So which of these 10 books are you going to read this year and why? Let me know. In case you have any other suggestions such as a book you feel should be there on the list, please leave a comment in the box below.
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