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Falling For Football

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Falling For Football

6.99 11.99
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These stories are all our stories, the teams belong to the individuals who tell their tales here but the emotions are overwhelmingly collective.

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These stories are all our stories, the teams belong to the individuals who tell their tales here but the emotions are overwhelmingly collective.

By Adam Bushby & Rob MacDonald

It's the match-day routines and the walk to the ground. It's the ebullient youngster going to their first game and the jaded dad who's seen it all before. It's swapping stickers in the playground and attempting to recreate that astonishing goal in the park with friends. It's the ecstatic high of being on the right side of a seven-goal thriller and the sickening low of being on the wrong end of a last-minute equaliser to a local rival. Falling for Football brings together 44 different writers (including Football 365's Andi Thomas, Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year nominees Ian King, Greg Theoharis, Rob Langham and Ian Rands, Yahoo! Sport's Brooks Peck and authors Musa Okwonga and Daniel Gray) who revisit the teams that made them fall in love with the beautiful game in the first place. From World Cup-winners to works of fiction, from the 1950s to the present day - the teams may be different, but the obsession remains reassuringly the same.

Book of the Week - The Independent

'Reading Falling For Football, it occurred to me that one of the few times men enjoy really listening to each other – rather than waiting for their chance to take the piss – is when it comes to the subject of sport, and football in particular. There is communion there we can’t get enough of, and this book captures it beautifully.' - Esquire

'Highly recommended' - The Football Pink

Author Bio

Adam and Rob are the brains behind Magic Spongers, a football blog they created in 2010 and, despite universal concurrence that the age of the blog is dead, they are still running. Under this and other guises including their own names, they have contributed articles to When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona and Run of Play, among others. You can find the blog at www.magicspongers.blogspot.com and some tweets @magicspongers. This is their first book as joint editors.

Extract

Although my lifelong love is Manchester United, the team that will forever turn my head is the AC Milan side of 1990. Milan's squad was so good that season that, it was said, their second XI could have won Serie A and their first XI could have won the World Cup. This was a special year. A year when Luciano Pavarotti made sobbing at an opera acceptable to the masses; and a year when Adidas released the Etrusco Unico match ball, 20 panels of majesty, which remains the best of its kind that I have ever seen or sidefooted.

A special year then, 1990. I was 11 years old, a time when, due to Roberto Baggio, everyone was about to fall in love with Diadora boots. But, before Diadora, there was the Lotto. Not just anyone could wear the Lotto, for two reasons. First, they were narrow as stilettos, which immediately ruled out the flat-footed among us. Secondly, they were worn by Marco van Basten, the greatest pure centre forward I have ever seen.

I say "pure" for good reason. Van Basten wouldn't actually get into my all-time World XI - he would lose the lone-striker role to Brazil's Ronaldo - but if aliens stumble upon the remains of our long-departed civilisation many millennia from now, van Basten's highlight reel will be the most graceful illustration they will find of the centre-forward's art. Where Ronaldo's skill levels were bewildering, he could at least turn to the more prosaic qualities of brute force when needed. But van Basten's game was all elegance and cool intellect. He rose to greatness by touch and touch alone. To buy a pair of his Lotto boots - had they fit me - would have been an act of unparalleled arrogance. They weren't the most expensive range, but I still saw few boys who dared even attempt to emulate him.

Alongside van Basten in that 1990 team, completing the famous trio of Dutchmen, were Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard. Gullit, of course, was the one you noticed first, and that's probably how he wanted it. His dreadlocks swayed out at you from the pages of Match magazine, and at the start of each game he strolled onto the pitch with the swagger of a rapper. Gullit was the Carl Lewis of football: a man of overwhelming aura, which was largely the result of his exceptional athletic ability. For a man of such imposing physique, he carried himself with a surprising lightness, not so much sprinting as skipping carefree over the turf.

Behind him, Rijkaard did the dirty work. If it was Gullit who feasted on helpless defences, then it was Rijkaard who set the table. While he did so in unfussy fashion, there was elegance in the economy with which he used the ball; and though he often played the humble role of waiter, he could also be the chef when called upon. It was, after all, his strike which won the European Cup at the end of that season, his goal giving AC Milan a 1-0 victory over Sven-Goran Eriksson's Benfica.