The best book on football. Ever.

Thanks so much for the recommendations attached to yesterday’s query about great books on football — discovered some new titles, and new ways to put a dent in my credit card.

Meanwhile, my post on the best soccer book of all time is now up.  Thoughts?

I’m heading back to work — need to finish all there is to do well in time, so I can quit early, shop for beer and other essentials, and settle down in front of the TV by 7. Christiano Ronaldo’s Portugal plays Didier Drogba’s Ivory Coast and then, on the stroke of midnight, the first look this Cup at Dunga’s Brazil.

Must confess I’m equal parts dread and anticipation about that second game. Brazil, at its best, invariably spell magic; for all that it lost in the quarterfinal to a combination of its own arrogance and the opportunism of the resurrected Paolo Rossi, my favorite Brazil team of all time [picking only from the ones I’ve seen in action, not experienced through reading and the grainy clips on YouTube] is the 1982 version. Equally, my least favorite lineup has to be the trophy-winning lineup of 2002, the year the team eschewed its flights of creative fancy for a hard-nosed pragmatism that produced results, but personally turned me off. Much pre-match punditry suggests that Brazil circa 2010 will be more akin to the 2002 team than to the earlier one led by the majestic Socrates — but one can still hope. [Oh, and while on hoping, I hope the samba in the stands is not stifled by the monotonous drone of those damn vuvuzelas].

Right — off to finish work. Be well all.

17 thoughts on “The best book on football. Ever.

  1. Hi Prem !

    Thanks for the link to GoAway blog. David Thorne is a real thorn on people’s flesh. He writes wonderfully well.

    Btw, I am sure you do read Andy Zaltzmann. He too is another great guy !!

    Cheers. Keep up your great work.

  2. So anyone in the yahoo blog written about how the Indian government has screwed the people in Bhopal gas tragedy ?

    It looks like the Indian government assured Union carbide that they are not liable for anything ?

    The latest blog topics :
    Sridevi’s nose, Vuvuzelas, Mercedes, Sports/sex, Abhi-Ash, Football writing,
    Old Doordarshan, Xbox, More football and Lady Gaga. I didn’t realize the blog was all about entertainment.

    • The more things change, the more it remains.:-)

      lets admit, the well-off doesnt give a shit about unfortunate ones in India till its their turn. This sounds a little communist to my dislike, but the fact remains.

  3. Prem
    you talked about the great writing in ‘sun and shadow’. Does this come through despite the fact that it is a translation?

  4. Am eargerly awaiting the games involving Brazil and later Spain. It has been a disappointing start to the World Cup. Only Germany has been brilliant. Argentina was above par but that is about it. Holland was pedestrian and less said about the other major teams like Italy, England and France, the better. The Brazil mid field sucks big time. I (dont want) remember Gilberto Silva and Kleberson from last World Cup and it sends a shiver up my spine. Spain has mid field creativity rivalling the Brazil of 1982 this time around. Looks like the European club influence on Brazil football is slowly killing creativity.

    Pramod – There is no comparison between Brazil in football and Ind/Pak in hockey. Brazil can play their flamboyant football and beat the hell out of any European team any day, while Ind/Pak cant.

    • Swami

      As long as they beat hell out of european (everother)team , I donot care whether they play flamboyant or pedestrian football

  5. Ordered Sun and Shadow through amazon. It is an eye opener as they accepted my order from Shipment to India. Earlier I had one experiance where they rejected the order and I had stopped ordering at amazon.

    Expect to get the book by mid July and use it to get over the WC hangover!!

  6. I have fallen asleep in two matches because of the monotonous vuvuzela voice. Vuvuzela also drowns the commentary which is far better than what we hear during cricket matches.
    Talking about commentary, i feel cricket commentary can be automated. Look at the latest cricket video games where commentary is so close to the action in that game. Our guys have become so monotonous and idea-less, like vuvuzelas. 😉

  7. Prem,

    Passing on a review of recent English translations of the Moti Nandy books mentioned by some commenters on your last post:

    I read the original works (of fiction) in Bengali as a teenager. My memory of them is imperfect, but I remember enjoying them very much indeed. Experience, and the inevitable losses in translation, may detract from that assessment now.

    Love your blog, btw.

  8. Prem

    It’s Cristiano Ronaldo, not ‘ Christiano Ronaldo’ – unless he’s decided that an extra ‘ h’ will get him some luck 🙂

    Secondly, am I in a minority here who doesn’t seem to mind the vuvuzelas ??? For all of the Samba beats, isn’t it barring the odd note, also pretty repetitive ? As to football chants, after being to a few league games around Europe, I’m just happy NOT to hear them, and I’m sure the general public also doesn’t miss the so called ‘ chants’ which border on abuse most of the time !

    • I’ll gladly pass on the football chants, mate, but talk of repetitive — that vuvuzela thingy is one endless, monochromatic drone. At least with drums, you get the adrenalin going; this thing is IMHO soporific. 🙂

  9. Hi Prem
    After I read your post, searching for buying “Sun and Shadow” Have to find out iof Amazon ships to India.

    Do you have any bookshop in India who might be having it?

    On another note on your Brazil 1982/2002 comparison and the talk about them in last one week (Socates et all)
    I cant understand that mentality of Brazilian fans and past players( much like ex India Cricket players). On the one hand they want the team to win . They say finishing second is no different than finishing last . On the other hand they want exhibition of skills. It is something, we in the subcontinent do with Hockey. We want India/Pakistan to play artistic Hockey and still win.

    The truth is that modern football and Hockey have grown beyond the skills and become more cutthroat. You have to be pragmatic to win .

    For me it is okay if they win ugly rather than wither away like India/Pakistan Hocket teams. They can showcase their skills in exhibition matches/freindly matches anyway

    • i don’t believe its an either/or situation. look at the current barcelona or spain side? they play a beautiful game and also find a way to win. brazil are famous for a certain style of football just the same way italy and the dutch have distinct styles. its normal for their fans to expect that from the players. ppl have an emotional reaction to style over brute efficiency. that’s why the 1982 brazil or 1974 dutch teams are so fondly remembered even if ultimately they didn’t win the cup. who recalls fondly the 1994 brazil team (dunga was the captain btw)?

      this is analogous to cricket as well. i remember asking greg chappell, boycott, wasim akram and michael holding about what they they enjoyed most in the india vs australia adelaide test in 2003. they all said it was laxman’s knock in the 1st innings which was peppered with all of his stylish flicks and drives. dravid’s workman-like effort that won india the game, didn’t get a mention.

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