The Soccer Book

WOW! I’m getting verklempt!  I just need a minute…here, I’ll give you a topic: the World Cup sponsors are going to make sure the refs make sure that Italy and Brazil get to the finals.  Discuss amongst yourself…

This was a present from my little brother S.  This is, what is known in the vernacular as, a "BIG-ASS BOOK".  So sayeth the title.  A thick, vinyl cover — like a college textbook.  400 pages of basics and insider knowledge.  Nice illustrations of the most popular faces in the sport.  Words of wisdom and also slightly less elegant utterings and mutterings from current and former managers. 

All the names that matter. 

There’s a chapter for everything: records, all the continental tournament winners, Ballon D’Or (p. 374) winners, etc.  The blurb at the back of the book is actually much better than this.

            • Visit planet soccer — all you need to know on the clubs, the fans, the rituals, the stats, and the results worldwide
            • Find out about the laws, the tactics, the science, and the art of the beautiful game…

I like how the bullets in the bullet list are little soccer balls.  Too bad I can’t do that here.  This Windows Live Writer program really needs to upgrade its graphics integration and offer more design choices.

Guess what I spent the morning doing after opening my presents.


Easily one of the best bits of the book, as I’m not a stats "anorak", is "Soccer Technologies".  THAT I’m interested in.  I don’t care who won the Under-21 Scottish Cup in 1894.  What IS interesting is this:


big soccer book0001  A microchip embedded in the soccer ball that sends out one hundred thousand (100,000) measurements per second, plus the framework of struts that keep it centered. PHWOAR! That’s fascinating to me.  iPods are even being used to scout games and give opposition instant access to strategies. 

In the gap between the end of extra time and the start of the penalty shootout at the end of the 2009 English League Cup final, Manchester Utd’s goalkeeper Ben Foster watched footage of his opponents taking penalties on a coach’s iPod.  It seemed to help…

P. 56.  Oh my God.  THE OFFICIALS. They picked the perfect example to illustrate this chapter: PIERLUIGI COLLINA! Yeah!!  He’s — again with the pimply, adolescent vernacular — da bomb!  He’s got a serious reputation for fairness and you just don’t f**k widdat.  It’s particularly interesting that officiating is a second job for a lot of these guys.

PP. 62-3.  THE RULES.  17 mostly immutable "Laws of The Game".  After reading each rule, I was all like, "yeah, but…", as in The ball must be touched by a second player before the first player can touch it again.  "Yeah, but…".  More reading fun.

PP. 67.  THE OFFSIDE RULE.  Pippo Inzaghi pointing at a set of diagrams.  7 of them and I still haven’t a clue what the point is. 

PP. 76-77.  Balls. All about balls. Different sizes, different colors, different textures.  Look it up yourself if you don’t believe me.

PP. 110-111.  P.E. Coach stuff — anatomy of a player, training, warming up.

There’s sections for individual skills such as running with the ball and shooting.  Quotes are sprinkled everywhere.  In addition to the technical information, there’s trivia about just everybody who’s anybody.  About the only thing this book lacks is coverage of women’s soccer.  But that’s probably another book.  Most of the anoraking stuff is at the back — all the records and tournament winners. 

If you know the soccer world, then pp. 94-5 should come as no surprise: (my hand to God, this is what’s on it) criminals, directors, gamblers, methods, and "people to influence".

soccer portraits 10001

L-R/Top Row: Michel Platini, Ronaldinho, Zinedine Zidane. 

L-R/Middle Row: George Best, {FIFA 1903–no clue, sorry.} Franz Beckenbauer?

L-R/Bottom Row: Paolo Maldini, Ronaldo, a Real Madrid player/not Ferenc Puskas.







soccer portraits 20001

L-R/Top Row: Ireland? Danny Blanchflower?, Johan Cruyf, Andrey Shevchenko.

L-R/Middle Row: Roy Keane, Samuel E’to?, Cristiano Ronaldo.

L-R/Bottom Row: Kenny Dalglish?, Lionel Messi, Pele.






**All of the players mentioned have their own websites or Wikipedia pages.

*My spelling might be a bit off on some of the names.



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www.european-football-statistics.co.uk  Unleash your inner "Anorak"!

www.fifa.com (World Cup 2010 — South Africa)



www.uefa.com (European Champions League — the most important tournament after the World Cup)


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