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The Football Men by Simon Kuper

Release date: 20th July, 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

List Price: £16.99
Our Price: £8.49
You Save: £8.5 (50%)
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Simon Kuper's last book, 'Why England Lose' provided readers with a welcome mix of economic analysis and fresh thinking about the beautiful game which rightly earned a succession of approving reviews. He can expect a similar batch of written praise for The Football Men which, though it may sound like a collection of 'pen-pics' assembled for a young boy's comic, is anything but.

Kuper's assured hand enables him to examine footballers, managers, even stadium architects and football-loving actors from a refreshingly unique perspective.

He is less interested in regurgitating predictable, PR-disinfected football-speak and more focused on treating his interviewees as subjects in their own right. It makes for a fascinating read which leaves you wondering why has no-one tried such an approach before.

But Kuper avoids psycho-babble and at times can be extremely funny and insightful - as his piercing examination of the standard 'footballer's autobiography' template shows.

As befits a man born in Africa and raised in Holland, Kuper's book has an inevitable focus on Dutch footballers (though the cameo provided by the mobile phone-obsessed German Lothar Matthias is hilarious). In addition to several excellent pieces on Dutch football legends, he also creates space for greats such as Franz Beckenbauer and Diego Maradona.

Almost inevitably, David Beckham features, while another ex-England midfielder, Glen Hoddle, offers reminiscences and an underlying sense that he is deliberately kept at arm's length by a game to which he contributed much.

Whomever his subject, Kuper succeeds in adding a classy continental polish to an extremely pleasurable read which, like Why England Lose leaves the reader wanting more.


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