The Urban Pitch Gift Guide: 13 Books Any Footy Fan Would Love

Want to send a perfect gift for a soccer fan this holiday season? How about a book! We’ve curated a list of 13 works of literature perfect for any fan.

It’s that time of year again. The season of giving is beautiful, especially for fans of the beautiful game.

Coming up with a unique gift idea can be difficult, whether it be for a significant other, family member, co-worker, or even a buddy who sits with you in the supporters’ section. We thought we’d ease the burden a bit by putting together a gift guide.

But since football is quite subjective (we dare you to give an Arsenal fan a Tottenham jersey this holiday season), it would be wrong of us to include kits, scarves, and other memorabilia on this list.

However, if we turn to the world of literature, we find ourselves in a more universal landscape, where there is something for just about everyone.

Below we have compiled a list of 13 soccer books where you can’t go wrong. Each one provides a unique look at the sport as a whole, a certain player, or fascinating story of the game that will have the reader entertained.

Das Reboot: How German Football Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World, by Raphael Honigstein

das reebot

After a miserable showing in the 1998 and 2006 World Cups, journalist and television pundit Raphael Honigstein outlined what the German federation did to modernize its program. The book reveals the necessity to change and readapt German football in order to evolve into the country it is now. The end result would be a 2014 FIFA World Cup victory and a return to glory (although turmoil has since returned).

Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby

fever pitch nick hornby

What does it mean to be a supporter of your team? Fever Pitch is a witty and heartwarming look at a fan and his love for his team, Arsenal. Author Nick Hornby gives a first person rendition of his absurd love for his club — a story many fans of any team can relate to.

1999: Manchester United, The Treble and All That, by Matt Dickinson

1999 treble

Manchester United had a season for the ages in 1998-99, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, and UEFA Champions League. The European trophy in particular was hoisted in one of the most amazing fashions in the history of the sport. This book goes behind the scenes of the magical season, giving us an in-depth look at one of the most iconic squads of all time.

Soccer in Sun and Shadow, by Eduardo Galeano

soccer in sun and shadow

Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano paints the rise of South American soccer in a poetic and witty manner. He highlights players like Pelé, Di Stéfano, Cruyff, Eusébio, Puskás, Gullit, Baggio, Beckenbauer, and Maradona in a brilliant fashion and traces the beautiful game all the way back to China. The book is a love poem to football as well as a detailed look at how the sport has penetrated our lives.

The Beckham Experiment: How the World’s Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America, by Grant Wahl

david beckham grant wahl

The late Grant Wahl gives an inside look at the mishaps and missteps of David Beckham’s first few years as Major League Soccer’s savior and first designated player of the Los Angeles Galaxy. From a feud with American star Landon Donovan to Alexi Lalas’ incompetence to not realize the team was being taken over by Beckham’s people, the book grants us fantastic access into one of the biggest moves in American sports history.

Beckham may have been very upset with Wahl and the book when it was first published, but it could have been the X-factor at giving the whole Becks-to-MLS saga a happy ending.

Once in a Lifetime: The Incredible Story of the New York Cosmos, by Gavin Newsham

new york cosmos once in a lifetime

One of the funniest and memorable stories you will ever read about the rise and fall of a soccer team. Gavin Newsham takes us back to the 1970s when Steve Ross, the owner of Warner Communications, wanted to build a club from scratch in the old NASL. The New York Cosmos would become the league’s flagship team, and its big spending and crazy stories of doing soccer the American way are littered throughout this book.

Guillermo El Terrible: The Story of an Idol, by Sergio Maffei and Pablo Vicente

guillermo el terrible

A look at the life of Guillermo Barros Schelotto, a unique soccer player who became an idol of two clubs, Gimnasia La Plata and Boca Juniors. Schelotto, at the time of the book’s publishing, was known in South America as a clever and at times cheeky player, with skill and a knack for getting under people’s skin. He would eventually take his career on the road to MLS with the Columbus Crew, after winning 17 titles and having his life story published.

The Keeper: A Life of Saving Goals and Achieving Them, by Tim Howard

The Keeper: The Unguarded Story of Tim Howard

United States men’s national team goalkeeping legend Tim Howard shares his life story and the ups and downs of his career from MLS, Manchester United, and his glory years at Everton. Along the way, Howard shares his experience playing with the United States and his fantastic 2014 World Cup game against Belgium. A remarkable story of a man who also had to deal with Tourette’s syndrome during the course of his life.

Fabián O’Neill: Until the Last Drop, by Federico Castillo and Horacio Varoli

fabian oneill

Uruguayan soccer player Fabián O’Neill had it all: Fame, women, money, and the adoration of his teammates at Juventus, even Zinedine Zidane. There was just one problem, a lifetime of alcohol abuse. Until the Last Drop is a humorous yet sad story of how someone throws it all away and is left by nothing more than his memories. Talent can only get you so far.

Bloody Confused! A Clueless American Sportswriter Seeks Solace in English Soccer, by Chuck Culpepper

chuck culpepper bloody confused

American sportswriter Chuck Culpepper went through a case of sports burnout after getting sick and tired of covering the NBA, NFL, and MLB. In 2006, he moved to England and discovered his love of sports again by following Premiership side Portsmouth.

St. Pauli, by Carles Viñas and Natxo Parra

st pauli book

A look at one of the most unique clubs and supporters in the world, German side St. Pauli. A club known for being pro-refugee, anti-fascism, anti-sexism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia, and anti-capitalism, St. Pauli has garnered a global following despite not having played top-division football in over a decade.

The Flea: The Amazing Story of Leo Messi, by Michael Part

the flea messi

The early biography of the man who would eventually become the greatest soccer player of all time. From the streets of Rosario to the fame and lights of the Camp Nou, a young Lionel Messi dazzles the world. If you’re interested in getting to know the full details of the early life of Messi, this is your go to book.

Hand of God: The Life of Diego Maradona, by Jimmy Burns

maradona the hand of god

One of the most riveting soccer books ever written, Jimmy Burns does the impossible — he truly sheds light at the troubled yet brilliant life of Diego Maradona. The book showcases the man’s brilliance on the field and how a life of excess destroyed the man off of it. Burns pulls no punches, and his 1997 book is the first true firsthand look at what went wrong in Maradona’s life, and how a young boy was convinced that he truly was a god.

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