Over the past decade, an audacious program called Football Dreams has held tryouts for millions of 13-year-old boys across Africa looking for soccer's next superstars. Led by the Spanish scout who helped launch Lionel Messi's career at Barcelona and funded by the desert kingdom of Qatar, the program has chosen a handful of boys each year to train to become professionals--a process over a thousand times more selective than getting into Harvard.
In The Away Game, reporter Sebastian Abbot follows a small group of the boys as they are discovered on dirt fields across Africa, join the glittering academy in Doha where they train, and compete for the chance to gain fame and fortune at Europe's top clubs. We meet Diawandou, a skilled Senegalese defender whose composure makes him a natural leader on the field; Hamza, a midfielder from Ghana with great talent but a mercurial personality to match; Ibrahima, a towering striker who scores goals by the bucketload; Serigne Mbaye, who glides by players effortlessly but happens to be deaf; and Bernard, often the smallest kid on the field but a sublime playmaker who invites constant comparison to Messi.
Abbot masterfully weaves together the dramatic story of the boys' journey with an exploration of the art and science of trying to spot talent at such a young age. As in so many other sports, data analytics in soccer have expanded in the wake of Moneyball, with scouts employing more sophisticated metrics like "expected goals" and tracking data to judge players. But, as The Away Game chronicles, soccer genius depends more on intangible qualities like "game intelligence" than on easily quantifiable ones.
Richly reported and deeply moving, The Away Game is set against the geopolitical backdrop of Qatar's rise from an impoverished patch of desert to an immensely rich nation determined to buy a place on the international stage. It is an unforgettable story of the joy and pain these talented African boys experience as they chase their dreams in a dizzying world of rich Arab sheikhs, money-hungry agents, and soccer-mad European fans.
There may be no cultural practice more global than soccer. Rites of birth and marriage are infinitely diverse, but the rules of soccer are universal. No world religion can match its geographical scope. The single greatest simultaneous human collective experience is the World Cup final. In this extraordinary tour de force, David Goldblatt tells the full story of soccer's rise from chaotic folk ritual to the world's most popular sport-now poised to fully establish itself in the USA. Already celebrated internationally, The Ball Is Round illuminates soccer's role in the political and social histories of modern societies, but never loses sight of the beauty, joy, and excitement of the game itself.
Mario Balotelli has a reputation like no other in football. Since exploding onto the scene at Inter Milan in 2007, he has won league titles in both Italy and England, moving between Europe's elite clubs with Liverpool his latest stop.
Yet for all his undoubted talent, he is better known for his off-field antics--not least his infamous run-ins with both the police and fire brigade. Once described by Jos Mourinho as "unmanageable," match-winning performances at the highest level have continued to convince clubs to enlist his mercurial services.
With exclusive access to friends, family, teammates, and coaches, acclaimed football biographer Luca Caioli talks to the people best placed to explain the mystery that is Mario Balotelli.
Luca Caioli is the best-selling author of Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, and Suarez. A renowned Italian sports journalist, he lives in Spain corresponding for SKY Italia and Corriere della Sera.
See the world of soccer brought to life with photos, illustrations, and stunning infographics. The Beautiful Game is loaded with facts, stats, profiles on player personalities, bios, history, and much more to make the beautiful game leap out at you like you've never seen before.
Whether it's uncovering the most goals scored in an international tournament, or comparing the left-foot of the world's best players, the intriguing, and often surprising, truths of soccer are completely at your disposal.
Who has scored more penalty shots, Ronaldo or Messi? Which goalie has the safest hands? Who has received the most red cards? These striking and fun infographics put the game's most intriguing questions to the test.
The Last Word on David Beckham
There is only one David Beckham -- and it's not always the one you read about in the newspapers and magazines or see in the movies. From humble East End London beginnings, the boy with prodigious soccer skills grew up to be one of the most gifted athletes of his generation as well as a sex symbol and fashion icon. Along the way he married Spice Girl Victoria "Posh" Adams, and together they inhabit a celebrity whirlwind of Diana-esque proportions. In Both Feet on the Ground, David talks candidly about the perils of fame (his wife and son were the targets of a notorious kidnapping plot and he is the subject of almost daily tabloid rumors); the struggle to balance his roles as a devoted husband and besotted father with his globetrotting existence as an international soccer star; the behind-the-scenes stories of his most memorable and heartbreaking (if only he could retake that infamous penalty kick against Portugal in Euro 2004) career moments; the controversy surrounding his first year at Real Madrid after his $41 million transfer from Manchester United, the storied English team he joined as a teenager and led for more than a decade; and, finally, his love of America, where he plans to start a soccer school and perhaps, one day, even play professionally.
Both Feet on the Ground is David Beckham's own extraordinary story, told by the man who knows him best -- David Beckham.
For nineteen straight years, the all-Hispanic boys' soccer team from Oregon's Woodburn High has made the playoffs. As they prepare to make it twenty, one thing will become clear: Los Perros play the beautiful game with heart, pride, and their lives on the line. Their spirited drive gives a rare sense of hope and unity to a blue-collar farming community that has been transformed by waves of immigrants over recent decades, a town locals call "Little Mexico." Watched over by a south Texas transplant--a surrogate father to half the squad--this band of brothers must learn to come together on the field and look after each other off it.More than just riveting sports writing, The Boys from Little Mexico is about the fight for the future of the next generation--and a hard, true look at boys dismissed as gang-bangers, told to "go home" by lily-white sideline crowds. The wins and losses they notch along the way spin a striking tale about what it takes to capture the American Dream.
If any one thing, Brilliant Orange is about Dutch space and a people whose unique conception of it has led to the most enduring arts, the weirdest architecture, and a bizarrely cerebral form of soccer--Total Football--that led in 1974 to a World Cup finals match with arch-rival Germany, and more recently to a devastating loss against Spain in 2010. With its intricacy and oddity, it continues to mystify and delight observers around the world. As David Winner wryly observes, it is an expression of the Dutch psyche that has a shared ancestry with Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie, Rembrandt's The Night Watch, and maybe even with Gouda cheese.
This guide to coaching female athletes of all ages shows how to build a team and provides invaluable advice on the differences between coaching males and females. The authors include exercises that foster teamwork and develop essential skills. They also answer parents' most common questions, such as how to tell if the coach is doing a good job and what to do if a child wants to quit. Filled with stories about the Olympic and World Cup championship teams, this useful handbook is infused throughout with DiCicco's philosophy that at every level playing soccer (or any sport) is about "playing hard, playing fair, playing to win, and having fun."