Beautiful books for the beautiful game
El Diego: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Footballer: With Maradona visible again on the world stage as Argentina’s coach, this is a must-read, especially for his army of fans.Especially good on his time at Napoli, the magic of the 1986 World Cup, and the ignominy and trauma in 1994.
All Played Out: Full Story of Italia ’90 by Pete Davies: With unprecedented access to the England team, Pete Davies follows the squad and gets into the world of the players and under the skin of the tournament that was said to have changed English football for ever. Later made into the film, One Night in Turin.
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby: The fan’s memoir that turned the fan’s memoir into a sub-genre. Witty, moving and authentic, Hornby’s debut, which talked about being a lifelong Arsenal supporter, is as much about football as about the nature of obsession.
A Season with Verona by Tim Parks: Tim Parks’s homage to Hellas Veronas – a lowly side in the Italian Serie A – is part cultural history, part sociology, part fan’s notes and part travelogue. The writing is sharp and Parks’s eyes and ears are keen. We meet a terrific set of characters along the way.
The Last Game by Jason Cowley: In this fine memoir, which is as much about his father as about a pivotal moment in English football, Jason Cowley offers a compelling account of what football used to be like at the end of the Thatcher years before it yielded to its current plutocratic avatar. The single game that is the pivot of the book is the final fixture of the 1989 season in which Arsenal beat Liverpool to win the league (it wasn’t the Premier League in those days).