Many, many, many books have been published on the topic of football. Many.
But out of all of them, which ones are the best? This is the impossible question I am attempting to answer, but I can’t answer it alone. I haven’t read every football book ever, that’s even more impossible. If we all combine our reading experiences, we wouldn’t have come close, but we can try.
I’ll list my top three football books, and you write your favourite in the comments. If you can convince me that your book is one of the best, then it might make a place in the follow-up article to this, where I’ll name some of your favourite football books, a couple of mine, and, finally, name a winner.
If this concept works, I might try it in other sports.
3. One Hit Wonder: The Jimmy Glass Story (Jimmy Glass with Roger Lytollis, 2004)
Jimmy Glass was a reserve goalkeeper for a Championship team before he moved on loan to Carlisle for the final three games of the season, there he scored a last-minute winner to keep Carlisle United in the Football League, making Glass an overnight celebrity in the football world.
His goal was ranked the 72nd greatest sporting moment ever by Channel 4, but his story is not just that of his goal. Glass is a one-time gambling addict, the former bodyguard for Andre Agassi, the only goalkeeper to score an own goal at Wembley, a former Sunday League striker, taxi driver, and computer salesman.
2. The Bottom Corner: Hope, Glory and Non-League Football (Nige Tassel, 2017)
Football isn’t all Champions League and World Cup finals. There is a whole world outside of that, a whole world of pints of beer, F-bombs and flying tackles. In this book, Nige Tassel spends a year in non-league football, spending time with a different club each month.
He goes from ‘the vegan football club’ to clubs struggling to get 11 players out on the pitch, to internationals plying their trade in the lower leagues of English football. You’ll meet some amazing characters, such as, the raffle-ticket seller who wants her ashes scattered in the centre-circle and the envelope salesman who discovered a future England international.
This book will get you jumping out of your seat in celebration, laughing in hysteria, punching your sofa in despair, but, most of all, smiling at the beauty of our beautiful game.
1. Barca: The rise and fall of the club that built modern football (Simon Kuper, 2022)
The best book about football ever. Kuper brilliantly traces how FC Barcelona became the world’s biggest football institution, but also tracks how and why the club’s recent decline has happened. You know a book is brilliant if it convinces you to buy more books on the subject, and that is exactly what Barca has done for me.
The book will leave you in love with tiki-taka, desperate to learn Catalan, and move to Catalonia, just to be close with the world’s most popular sports club.
Those are my three, but what do you think? Leave your opinion in the comments.