The Reading List: Football

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The Independent Culture


'I'm Not Really Here' by Paul Lake (Century, £14.99)

As Manchester City start the season as multimillionaire contenders, the release of Paul Lake's autobiography shows how much the club has changed since they allowed chronic injuries to destroy the career of a player cited as a future England captain. Lake's post-career depression is detailed here in a book that's been hailed as one of the best sporting titles of 2011.


'Inverting The Pyramid' by Jonathan Wilson (Orion, £8.99)

One for the hardcore tactical purist. Wilson tells the history of tactics from the amateur chase-the-ball public schoolboys of the 19th century up to the pioneers of the 20th, like Dynamo Kiev's Valeri Lobanovsky and AC Milan's Arrigo Sacchi. Can be credited for giving armchair fans a nuanced explanation of exactly how tactics work.


'Garrincha' by Ruy Castro (Yellow Jersey, £10.99)

Garrincha was the greatest dribbler of all time. And perhaps the most colourful character to play the game, too. Castro's masterful biography tells the story of the a boy with crooked legs who came from a poverty-stricken slum called Pau Grande to become the best footballer of his generation. He also became an alcoholic, lost his virginity to a goat and married samba superstar Elza Soares. An extraordinary tale.


'Why England Lose' by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski (Harper Sport, £7.99)

Simon Kuper made his name with a number of well-received football titles, including Football Against the Enemy. Here he teams up with economist Stefan Szymanski for a footballing Freakonomics. One reason to explain why England lose is football's inability to produce players across the class system.


'Fever Pitch' by Nick Hornby (Penguin, £7.99)

Arguably surpassed by David Peace's The Damned United as the Great Football Novel, Fever Pitch remains one of the key documents that changed the nation's view of the football fan as the lager-fuelled nihilist. Hornby's study of life as a suffering Arsenal fan growing up in the Seventies remains the first book to add to the curriculum of any young fan solely used to the gloss and glam of the post-1992 Premier League.