The Football Men, by Simon Kuper
Sunday 12 June 2011
It might seem perverse for someone who makes his living writing about and interviewing footballers to say: "I do believe that you can access truths about the game by speaking to Arsène Wenger, if he feels like telling you. I don't believe you can access them by speaking to Wayne Rooney."
But every football reporter who has endured the tortuous process of attempting to set up interviews with players and then trying to extract anything of interest from the ensuing conversations will smile wanly in recognition.
Simon Kuper is a refreshing antidote to the current media obsession with "getting the nannies [nanny goats = quotes]", however banal, from players. He doesn't mince his words: talking of past greats, he dismisses Bobby Charlton as "a dullard", Michel Platini "a weak character" and Pele "a talking puppet".
More recent galacticos receive equally short shrift: Thierry Henry is described in 2009 as "almost completely clapped out", an observation amply justified in the following year's World Cup.
The theme that runs throughout this collection of Kuper's newspaper articles over the past 13 years, supplemented by some pieces written specially for this book, is that footballers are by and large ordinary souls, whose special talent doesn't make them special people.
What is exceptional is Kuper's insightful view of their world and the managers who attempt to control it. Whether defending Wenger's purchasing policy at Arsenal or explaining why Fabio Capello was, and continues to be, an inspired appointment for England, his judgements are often revisionist, always well argued.
If you're looking for sleaze and sensation, this isn't the book for you; but if stylish profiles written with wit and humour are your thing, you won't be disappointed.
Published in hardback by Simon & Schuster, £16.99
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Miley Cyrus' homeless MTV VMAs date, Jesse Helt, is wanted by the police
- 2 36-year-old skeleton of dead baby found inside Indian woman
- 3 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 4 Homer Simpson has taken the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he has
- 5 The 13 obscure UK laws you didn’t know you were breaking
Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love voted Greatest Guitar Riff of all time
Doctor Who lesbian kiss sparks Ofcom complaints over 'weird lesbian-lizard perv trip'
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Homer Simpson has taken the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he has
Beyonce MTV VMAs feminist performance: Twitter reacts to singer's 'double standard'
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Jeremy Clarkson is a cultural tumour and needs to be removed, says comedian Frankie Boyle
Air strikes? Talk of God? Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script after James Foley beheading
- < Previous
- Next >